‘AKP don’t want Gülen returned’ – opposition MP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) does not really want the United States to extradite exile preacher Fethullah Gülen back to Turkey, fearing what he might reveal when on trial, an opposition member of parliament told Sözcü newspaper.

“The AKP does not want Fethullah Gülen to be returned,” said Professor Aytuğ Atıcı, a deputy for the Republican People’s Party (CHP). “Because if Fethullah Gülen comes here, he will be tried, and during his trial the whole world will hear what he has to say.”

U.S.-based Gülen was once an ally of Erdoğan, but rivalry between the two Islamist camps came to a head in 2013 with a series of corruption charges brought by Gülenist prosecutors against ministers and their relatives. The AKP accuses Gülen and his followers in the military of carrying out a failed coup last July.

Atıcı has recently begun to stand out in the Turkish parliament due to his exceptionally long beard, which he began growing when a state of emergency was announced in July 2016. He has pledged not to cut it until emergency rule ends.

The state of emergency is being abused by the government to serve its own ends, Atıcı said in an interview published Monday.

They throw everyone who is in their way inside. They use the state of emergency to gather us all up one by one … An empire of fear has been constructed, and they have named it a ‘state of emergency’. That is why it seems they will do whatever they can to prolong it.

Atıcı said the government is also using anti-terror measures as a smokescreen to repress all legal opposition, including himself, as a dossier had been prepared accusing him of links to a terrorist group. He said nine jailed members of parliament for the mainly Kurdish party, the HDP, had been jailed as bargaining chips.

Look, we may not agree with the ideas of HDP. We may not condone their style. But there is only one reason why they are jailed; they have been taken hostage … This is the politics of hostage-taking. The United States has not bought into this politics of hostage taking, and neither will we.

Atıcı also criticised the United States for “punishing” all Turkish citizens by stopping visa applications from Turkey after the arrest of two of its personnel. The two Turkish employees at U.S. consulates in Turkey shared the fate of thousands arrested in a widespread crackdown following the failed coup.

“There are tens of thousands of people in that position in today’s Turkey,” he said.

“Turkey has become a country of people who are condemned extrajudicially even before their crimes are established.”

You may read the article from Sözcü here: