U.S. delegation visit may lead to new developments on Gülen probe - Turkish minister

A U.S. delegation’s visit to Ankara this week may lead to new developments on cases linked to the Gülen movement, state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül as saying on Saturday.

The U.S delegation including two prosecutors held talks with Turkish officials on Thursday and Friday over investigations into Gülen movement, a religious group Turkey accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016.

The Turkish minister said that the U.S. delegation’s visit had been related to an investigation launched into the religious group in New York and the U.S. officials had asked Turkey to provide access to some digital evidences and witnesses under judicial cooperation.

“When we saw that they wanted to access information, we understood that they are taking the issue seriously,” Gül told reporters in Ankara.

Gül did not provide detailed information about the investigation in United States but said that it was related to money laundering.

Gül also said that they provided the U.S. officials all available information regarding an assassination attempt against the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 15, 2016, the night of the failed coup.

“I believe that the issues that delegation, prosecutors witnessed here and the investigation will open the way for new progress,” the minister said. “This was an important process that demonstrated trials in Turkey are fair and conclusions are based on evidence and the U.S. delegation witnessed that,” he said.

Gül said that the visit was not related to Turkey’s extradition request for the movement’s U.S.-based leader, Fehullah Gülen and he thought U.S. judicial authorities’ conclusion would have positive effects on Turkey’s extradition request as well.

During their visit, the U.S. delegation reportedly heard the testimony of Kemal Batmaz, allegedly a senior member of the movement, via a video conference in the Ankara court house. Turkey’s state-run news agency on the other hand only said that Turkey had shared information on Batmaz and Hakan Çiçek, another senior devotee of Gülen, and the details of phone conversations the two made at the night of the coup attempt.

Seventy-seven-year-old Gülen denies any involvement in 2016 coup attempt.