Turkey calls on US to extradite Muslim cleric as crackdown begins for failed coup

Turkey calls on US to extradite Muslim cleric as crackdown begins for failed coup
People kick and beat a Turkish soldier that participated in the attempted coup, on Istanbul's Bosporus Bridge, today. Pic: AP

Update - 7.45pm: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the United States to extradite a Muslim cleric he accuses of being behind Turkey's failed coup attempt.

In a televised speech on Saturday night, Mr Erdogan said as Turkey's strategic partner Washington should meet the demand for the extradition of Pennsylvania-based Fethullah Gulen.

Mr Erdogan said Turkey had never turned back any extradition request for "terrorists" by the United States.

A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, said Turkey "has been preparing a formal application with detailed information about Gulen's involvement in illegal activities. After last night we have one more thing to add to an already extensive list".

Earlier: The Turkish government has purged 2,745 judges seen as loyal to an exiled cleric the country's president blames for a failed coup.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown against alleged opponents began with the detention of 10 members of the highest court - part of a wider apparent effort to root out judicial officials with supposed links to Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he would entertain an extradition request for the cleric Mr Gulen but that Turkey would have to provide evidence that he was behind the attempt to overthrow the government.

The development came as The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have urged caution if travelling to Turkey.

They advise Irish citizens in Turkey or intending to travel there to “exercise a high degree of caution” and strongly recommend obtaining comprehensive travel insurance.

Internally, there has been serious disruption to public transport, including international and domestic air travel.

People carry a man, wounded during firefight between police and the army, in Istanbul, today. Pic: AP
People carry a man, wounded during firefight between police and the army, in Istanbul, today. Pic: AP

Istanbul airport is reportedly closed until 9pm and travellers are advised to check with their tour operator or travel carrier for updates.

The department strongly advise against travel to border areas between Turkey and Syria.

Anyone intending to go to the region is also advised to register with the department so they can contact people in the area if needed.

The fallout from the coup, which left 161 people dead and 1,440 injured, with 2,839 military personnel detained, continued as five warships which reportedly set sail during the attempt returned to their port in north-west Turkey.

Supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who were staging a protest against a coup, clash with Turkish journalists near the Turkish military headquarters, in Ankara, today. Pic: AP
Supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who were staging a protest against a coup, clash with Turkish journalists near the Turkish military headquarters, in Ankara, today. Pic: AP

The Anadolu agency said it was unclear whether a missing navy fleet commander, admiral Veysel Kosele, was aboard one of the ships.

Meanwhile, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu demanded the extradition of seven officers and one civilian who landed a military helicopter in Greece, seeking political asylum.

Mr Cavusoglu described them as "treacherous" but Greece said it would consider their asylum requests after handing back the Blackhawk helicopter "as soon as possible".

Meanwhile, hundreds of Turks with flags gathered outside parliament in Ankara to protest the coup attempt.

At an emergency parliamentary session, prime minister Binali Yildirim declared July 15 "a festival for democracy" and said of the plotters: "These are not soldiers, they are ravenous terrorist butchers in uniforms".

Mr Erdogan, who as the coup was under way addressed the nation via a video link to a smartphone held by a TV presenter, suggested that plotters will be treated similarly to terrorists and "will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey".

"Those who stain the military's reputation must leave," he said.

"The process has started today, and it will continue just as we fight other terrorist groups."

German chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the coup attempt, saying it was "tragic that so many people paid for this coup attempt with their lives".

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