Turkey sends document to US seeking cleric's arrest over failed coup

Turkey sends document to US seeking cleric's arrest over failed coup
Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, left, addresses the Parliament in Ankara today. Pic: AP

Turkey's justice minister has sent a document to the United States seeking the arrest of cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and whom Ankara accuses of instigating an attempted coup on July 15.

Bekir Bozdag sent a "second written document" requesting Mr Gulen's arrest, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The minister said the second letter explained why there was an urgent need for the arrest.

Ankara has demanded Mr Gulen's extradition over the failed coup, which left 271 people dead.

Washington has asked for evidence of the cleric's involvement, saying the extradition process must take its course.

The Turkish government launched a sweeping crackdown on Mr Gulen's movement, which it characterises as a terrorist organisation and which runs schools, charities and businesses internationally.

In Turkey, nearly 70,000 people have been suspended from their jobs on suspicion of being involved in the movement.

"They requested certain information following our first letter; we provided answers to the question 'why is it urgent'," Anadolu quoted Mr Bozdag as telling reporters in parliament.

"We wrote to them that there are serious claims and statements that Fethullah Gulen has a finger in the attempted coup. That is why he needs to be detained urgently. (We wrote) that we have intelligence that he can escape to third countries," Mr Bozdag said.

"I hope that the United States decides in Turkey's favour, in line with democracy and the rule of law, and returns this leader of a terror organisation to Turkey."

The minister said that if Mr Gulen leaves the US for another country, it would be with the full knowledge of US authorities.

"If he escapes then the US would either have turned a blind eye or approved of it," Mr Bozdag said.

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