Amid reports that Turkey may have offered $15 million to a former adviser of US President Donald Trump to illegally remove Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen to Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım criticized Washington for not taking steps on Gülen’s extradition, telling Fareed Zakaria on Sunday’s “GPS” that Ankara did not ask the Americans for evidence of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack.
“On July 15 we had a coup attempt, similar to 9/11 in the United States. When President Bush announced that the US was under attack, Turkey was the first country to offer to help and send the army to Afghanistan. We didn’t ask who was behind this. The United States said this was al-Qaeda behind this attack, al- Qaeda is responsible. Nobody asked the United States ‘Is there any evidence that al-Qaeda did so’,” Yıldırım said, in a pivot from Zakaria’s assertion that the evidence provided by Turkey for Gülen’s extradition was reportedly “not particularly strong,
not conclusive … very sparse.”
Fethullah Gülen, who lives in the United States since 1999, is accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016. Gülen denies any involvement in the putsch.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday an alleged plan that involved former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to forcibly remove Gülen in return for millions of dollars is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million to hand Gülen over to the Turkish government under the alleged proposal, according to people with knowledge of discussions Flynn had with Turkish representatives during a reported meeting in December at the 21 Club in New York City.
Zakaria asked Yıldırım if Turkey had expected the Trump administration to take action on the extradition of Gülen in light of the fact that Flynn, the national security advisor, had been working “with the Turkish government, for the Turkish government” and advocating his extradition. Yıldırım said they expected it to happen but added that as time went on, they saw that there were no signals that extradition was “in place.” Yıldırım also denied that his government had dealt with Flynn on the Gülen issue, saying it was a matter between the justice ministries of
the two countries.
When earlier asked by foreign reporters whether the US was involved in last year’s July 15 coup attempt, Yıldırım said there was a ‘prevalent opinion’; among the Turkish people that America was behind it, in particular because the US had not taken any steps regarding the extradition of Gülen.
“We [the government] did not establish this opinion,” he stressed.
Then-Minister of Labor and Social Security Süleyman Soylu stated on July 19, 2016 that the US was behind the coup attempt.