Turkey’s Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said during a press conference on Friday that the Turkish government will continue its global manhunt against the followers of the Gulen movement stating that the operation could take place in the US as well.
Kalin said “our relevant units” will continue its operations against FETO like the one in Kosovo, whether it be the US or any other country. “FETÖ” is an abbreviation for the Gulen movement, coined by the Turkish government to label the movement as a terrorist organization. The government accuses the movement of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt in Turkey while the group denies involvement.
What follow are official transcripts of a media member’s question for Kalin and of his answer.
Q: “You said foreign operations will continue. The National Intelligence Organization has been nabbing FETO members and bringing them to Turkey. President Erdoğan will go to the U.S. on Monday and he will exchange views regarding the extradition of the FETO leader Gulen. Can we expect any progress there?”
A: “Our relevant units and institutions will continue their operations in the countries the FETO operates in whether it be the U.S. or some other country. Rest assured that they will feel Turkey breathing down their neck. I cannot share any details but anything can happen anytime anywhere. Mr. President has given very clear instructions on this issue. Our relevant units are working very professionally. Operations similar to the one conducted in Kosovo can be carried out in other countries. All should know that Turkey will not allow the FETO to breathe a sigh of relief.”
In March, this year, Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) abducted six Turkish nationals, one doctor and five educators, working for a group of schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in Kosovo and removed them to Turkey the same day. The abduction of the Turkish nationals sparked a political crisis in Kosovo and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj dismissed the interior minister along with the secret service chief. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) lamented the operation saying that the abductees would face the risk of torture and abuse in Turkey.
More than 150,000 people have been detained and 90,000 were remanded in prison over Gulen links in Turkey since the summer of 2016. Meanwhile, Erdogan called on foreign governments to punish Gulenists in their own countries.
So far, a number of countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Georgia and Myanmar handed over academics, businessmen and school principals upon the Turkish government’s request despite the fact that some of those victims already had refugee status with the United Nations. In some countries, the MIT led the arrests itself with or without the involvement of local law enforcement.
US media last year reported that Fethullah Gülen, the movement’s leader who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, was part of a potential bargain between former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and top Turkish officials.
An alleged plan that involved Flynn forcibly removing Gülen in return for millions of dollars is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 10, 2017.
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.
The alleged meeting to discuss the kidnapping of Gülen followed another meeting in September in New York between Flynn and Berat Albayrak, energy minister of Turkey and President Erdoğan’s son-in-law, and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with the attendance of former CIA director James Woolsey, who described the proposal to The Wall Street Journal as “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.”