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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Theresa May rebuffs Turkish efforts to extradite alleged coup plotters

Officials of the ruling party in Turkey had wanted prime minister Binali Yıldırım to declare a pro- Gülen group a terrorist organisation

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaking to Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, left. Matt Dunham/ AP Photo
British Prime Minister Theresa May speaking to Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, left. Matt Dunham/ AP Photo

British prime minister Theresa May rebuffed Turkish calls for the extradition of followers of the alleged leader of last year’s coup, Fethullah Gülen.

Prior to Mrs May’s meeting with her Turkish counterpart, Binali Yıldırım at Downing Street on Monday afternoon, a senior member of that country’s governing Justice and Development party had called for an organisation linked to Mr Gülen to be banned in Britain and declared a terrorist group in the UK.

Özlem Zengin told The Guardian newspaper that “there have been extradition requests made regarding some businessmen in the UK. The ministry of justice [in Ankara] is working on these issues [and] Interpol has also been involved.

“One of the businessmen escaped illegally to the UK. It’s a brutal organisation. We are talking about a structure that has been in existence for 40 years. All these people were under the control of the leadership. The [Turkish] prime minister is coming to the UK in order to have special talks. This will be one of the issues,” she added.

“We call it the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (Feto). It’s not an ordinary organisation. They are trouble for Turkey now in different parts of the world. You don’t know what they are going to do.”

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However, there was no discussion or agreement of the request, according to the British government.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister welcomed Prime Minister Yildirim of Turkey to Downing Street for a bilateral meeting earlier today.

“They discussed the shared challenge we face from terrorism and the ongoing work to further enhance our already strong partnership to tackle the threat this poses to both of our countries.”

In addition to making no reference to the demands about extradition, the statement released instead noted arrests made in Turkey of members of NGOs who had been arrested.

“Prime minister May acknowledged the progress made with the recent release of Amnesty workers, and the importance of upholding human rights and the rule of law,” the spokesperson said.

This year Taner Kılıç, and İdil Eser the chair and director of Amnesty International Turkey, were arrested put in prison. Their trial began last Wednesday, and they have been charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organization” which could see them jailed for 15 years.