Pallone Leads Letter Urging Trump Administration Not to Extradite Turkish Cleric Fethullah Gülen
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) led a letter from Members of Congress asking that President Trump halt any efforts to extradite exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen from the U.S. to Turkey, as has been reported in numerous media outlets. Gülen has been a consistent scapegoat for Turkish President Recip Erdogan and it has been reported that Trump is considering his removal from the U.S. to encourage Turkey to ease pressure on the Saudi government relating to the October 2nd murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Members wrote that extradition of Mr. Gülen to Turkey, a legal permanent resident of the U.S., would likely lead to a subsequent show trial, imprisonment, and possibly even to his death at the hands of the Erdogan regime. They also stressed that it would set an incredibly dangerous precedent for the treatment of those seeking asylum in the United States
The letter can be found below and is attached:
Dear President Trump:
We are deeply concerned about recent reports that your administration is exploring extraditing Mr. Fetullah Gülen to the Republic of Turkey. Reports indicate that Gülen’s removal from the United States would be part of a convoluted plan intended to appease Turkish President Recep Erdogan. In doing so, the administration would expect President Erdogan to ease political pressure on Saudi Arabia relating to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. We believe that any such plan would be antithetical to American values and counterproductive to our national security interests. If the reports are true, we demand that you halt this process immediately and share all information pertaining to this plan with Congress.
As you are aware, Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish cleric who has resided in the United States as a legal permanent resident since 2001. President Erdogan has consistently called for Gülen’s extradition based on unsubstantiated claims that he was the mastermind behind a 2013 criminal corruption investigation involving key officials in the Turkish government and behind a failed coup attempt against the Erdogan government in 2015. The Department of Justice has reviewed Turkey’s case against Gülen several times under both your and former-President Obama’s administrations, but the Department has found no credible basis for his extradition.
President Erdogan has taken multiple steps to consolidate power, limit free speech, and upend the rule of law in Turkey over the past several years – especially since the failed coup attempt in 2015. Sending Mr. Gülen to Turkey without any corroborating evidence to justify this action is extremely reckless. It would also clearly break international norms and establish a dangerous precedent by using a lawful asylum seeker in the United States as a bargaining chip. There is little doubt that Gülen’s extradition would immediately lead to a show trial, to his imprisonment, and possibly even to his death at the hands of the Erdogan regime.
Extraditing Fetullah Gülen to contain or even shut down the investigation into the October 2nd murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be a perverse and deeply disturbing use of power. If the reports are true, this ill-advised plan appears to have been developed without any understanding or acknowledgement of how it would further deteriorate America’s standing in the world. It would only serve to highlight the already woefully inadequate U.S. response to the Khashoggi murder that we have seen so far.
We demand that any plan being considered by your administration involving the extradition of Fetullah Gülen and efforts to prevent the full public disclosure of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi be halted immediately. Additionally, we request that any information relating to such plans be shared with Congress promptly.