World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen based on allegations he attempted to overthrow the government, broadcaster CNN Turk and other media reports said on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he would ask the United States to extradite former ally Gulen, whom he accuses of plotting to topple him and undermine Turkey with concocted graft accusations and secret wire taps.
A move to extradite Gulen would be possible only if Turkey first issued an arrest warrant and produced evidence of a crime, according to one legal expert.
Culture Minister Omer Celik told broadcaster NTV there was an investigation into Gulen based on "serious allegations, a process extending as far as spying activities".
NTV reported separately, without specifying its sources, that the investigation, launched by state prosecutors in the capital Ankara, was also based on accusations against Gulen of "establishing and leading a gang", NTV reported.
WHITE HOUSE SILENT
U.S. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has refused to comment on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's request to extradite congregation leader Fethullah Gulen to face questioning over his alleged role to carry out a 'civilian coup' on the government.
Prime Minister Erdogan had promised to start the legal procedure to deport Gulen, who has been living in the U.S. in a state of self-exile since 1999 after entering the country with a fraudulent diplomatic passport.
Regarding this, Psaki, said that she was aware of the request but was not in a position to comment about the matter specifically.
Gulen, who heads one of Turkey's most influential groups - The Hizmet Movement - is accused of setting up a 'parallel state' using aides withing the Turkish judiciary and police force to undermine and oust Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) government by launching a bogus anti-graft operation.
A number of top bureaucrats allied to the government along with ministers' sons were arrested on December 17 on charges of corruption and bribery. The timing of the allegations was a blow for Erdogan's AK Party, just three months before the March 30 local elections.
However, Erdogan immediately began a counter operation by purging the judiciary, police force and even reshuffling his cabinet. In doing so he successfully averted a second wave of arrests that was set to take place on December 25.
In the following weeks leading up to the local elections, a number of scandals linked to the so called 'parallel state' rocked the country, especially when it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens, from President Abdullah Gul to journalists and security officials were spied on in wiretapping and bugging cases. A truck belonging to the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) was also raided in the south-eastern province of Adana on its way to Syria.
The scandal peaked just days before the local elections when an audio from a top secret meeting between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, MIT chief Hakan Fidan and the Chief of Army Staff's second in command was leaked on to the internet, with the officials heard discussing possible war strategies should Turkey be forced to take military action against threats in Syria.
None of this, however, was enough to out-seat the AK Party in the local polls. In fact, the AK Party saw a significant increase in their votes as they secured a clear victory over their main political rival, the Republican People's Party (CHP).Last Mod: 30 Nisan 2014, 15:12