US must take immediate action to extradite leader of terror group behind 2016 defeated coup, says Turkey's prime minister

On the eve of a trip to Washington, Turkey’s prime minister on Tuesday called on the U.S. judiciary to take immediate steps to extradite the leader of the terrorist group behind last year’s defeated coup.

Referring to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), Binali Yildirim told reporters at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport: “Everything for the extradition of the FETO leader has been done. The stacks of files can’t fit in rooms anymore.

"If this many files and documents aren’t enough, there must be something else involved in this issue. So the judiciary in the U.S. should take immediate legal action and do what’s necessary.”

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 that martyred 250 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.

 Turkey has long accused the U.S. of dragging its feet on Gulen’s extradition, saying it has requested his return with more than sufficient evidence of his guilt.

 Yildirim’s trip comes amid signs of improving Turkish-U.S. relations. Both countries Monday partially restored visa services after a nearly month-long row over Turkish staffers of a U.S. mission arrested for alleged FETO ties.

Başbakan Binali Yıldırım

‘No assurances needed’

But Yildirim appeared to rebuff a U.S. Embassy statement claiming that it had gotten “high-level assurances” that Turkey will give advance notice of detentions or arrests of local staff members in the future.

Legal action and arrests have been done on both sides, said Yildirim, referring in part to arrests of Turkish bodyguards over a brawl during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s U.S. visit this May

“The legal process is underway in line with the principles of the state of law in both countries,” said Yildirim.

“Therefore, negotiations demanding mutual assurances are not needed.”

Yildirim’s remarks echoed a statement Monday by Turkey’s Embassy in Washington, posting on Twitter: “Turkey is a state of law and our government cannot provide any assurances regarding files that are the subject of ongoing legal processes.”

Yildirim also addressed the purpose of the visit, during which he is expected to meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, saying, “Notably the Syria and Iraq issues and requests regarding the FETO issue and coming steps will top the agenda in detail.”

He added that issues between the countries concerning the fight against Daesh and the PKK/PYD, a Syrian group the U.S. has supplied with weapons, would also be discussed.

Ankara considers the PKK/PYD the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S., while the U.S. sees it as a separate group and “reliable ally” in its fight against Daesh in Syria.

For more than 30 years, the PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey leading to the deaths of more than 40,000 people -- security forces and civilians alike -- including more than 1,200 since July 2015 alone.