Turkey: U.S. May ‘Sacrifice’ Alliance Over Cleric

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag is demanding the United States hand over the Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric who the country claims inspired its failed coup last month—and added that Washington will be sacrificing its alliance with Turkey if it refuses. The cleric, Fethullah Gülen, has denied involvement; Bozdag called Gülen a “terrorist,” and said he was behind the attempted July 15 government overthrow that left about 250 people dead. White House officials say proper extradition processes, including evidence of Gülen’s involvement, must be followed in order for him to be turned over.

Bozdag added that Turkey has formally arrested about 16,000 people in connection to the failed coup, with at least another 6,000 people detained for processing, and more than 7,000 others under investigation. The country has fired, removed, suspended, or detained tens of thousands of people serving as journalists, police, judges, and public servants since the conflict. Western allies have expressed concern that President Tayyip Erdogan was using the aftermath of the events as an excuse to repress dissent.