The New York Times editorial board published an article titled “Let Mr. Erdogan Fight His Own Battles” on Friday in which it defined Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's attempt to get the US to extradite Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen as “nothing more than a crass and cynical attempt to exploit the law, and Turkey's alliance with the United States, for political payback.”
Erdoğan had said during an interview with American public television station PBS host Charlie Rose broadcast in the US on Monday night that the US should extradite Gülen.
“Some experts say there is no legal basis for an extradition request because there are no charges or legal cases against Mr. Gülen, who has permanent-resident status and has lived in rural Pennsylvania since 1997,” The New York Times wrote.
The newspaper also said that for the United States to approve an extradition request, the person must be accused of a crime recognized in both jurisdictions, and there must be a reasonable belief that the person committed the crime. “It seems unlikely those conditions exist. Washington has not considered Mr. Gülen a threat, or he would not have been able to remain in the country,” it added.
When Rose asked Erdoğan if he believes the US will comply with Turkey's request for an extradition, Erdoğan said he hopes to see that happen. The prime minister then quickly added that the US should at least deport Gülen.
Erdoğan acknowledged that the Islamic scholar has the right to permanently reside in the US by virtue of a legal document known as a green card, which also gives Gülen legal rights in the US. The prime minister also pointed out that his government had cancelled Gülen's Turkish passport but did not mention why.
On Tuesday, when asked by a reporter after a party parliamentary group meeting if a formal process seeking Gülen's extradition from the United States would be started, Erdoğan replied, “Yes, it will begin." This is not the first time Erdoğan has raised the issue of extraditing the scholar. Speaking on Turkish TV in March, Erdoğan said he had asked US President Barack Obama during a phone call on Feb. 19 for Gülen to be extradited because he represents a threat to Turkey's national security. Erdoğan claimed that Obama had viewed this request “positively” and replied by saying, “I got the message.”
In an unusual statement, the White House then accused Prime Minister Erdoğan of misrepresenting the content of the phone conversation with Obama. Gülen is in self-imposed exile in the US, though there is no legal hurdle preventing him from returning to Turkey. Shortly after he went to the US in 2000, he was charged with establishing an illegal organization in Turkey but was eventually acquitted in 2008.
“So far, the Obama administration has declined to comment publicly on the issue, which has the potential to cause serious and unnecessary new tensions with Turkey. It would be an abuse of extradition law to use it for political reasons. Mr. Erdoğan should fight his political battles on his own,” The New York Times said.
NYT on Erdoğan’s extradition request for Gülen: crass, cynical attempt
Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen (Photo: Today's Zaman)
May 03, 2014, Saturday/ 11:19:58/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM