Turkey formally requests extradition of cleric from Pa.

Turkey formally requests extradition of cleric from Pa.
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Turkey has formally asked the United States to extradite a Muslim cleric it blames for last week’s coup attempt, Turkey’s prime minister said Tuesday.

“We have sent four dossiers to the United States for the extradition of the terrorist chief,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party at the parliament, according to state-run Anadolu Agency. “We will present them with more evidence than they want.”

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Friday night’s failed coup resulted in the deaths of nearly 300 people. In the aftermath, thousands of military personnel have been arrested.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Fethullah Gülen and his followers of orchestrating the attempt to oust him.

Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania under self-imposed exile, has denied any involvement.

On Tuesday, he urged the United States not to allow Turkey to "abuse" the extradition process.

"Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today once again demonstrated he will go to any length necessary to solidify his power and persecute his critics," Gülen said in a written statement. "It is ridiculous, irresponsible and false to suggest I had anything to do with the horrific failed coup. I urge the U.S. government to reject any effort to abuse the extradition process to carry out political vendettas."

The White House confirmed that it received documents in electronic form from Turkey, but said the U.S. government is still reviewing the package to see if it qualifies as a formal request.

"I can’t say definitively at this point that a formal request was made," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at a briefing. "We’re still reviewing the materials that were submitted by the Turkish government."

It's up to the Justice Department and the State Department to review the documents, he said. It's not President Obama's decision on whether to extradite Gülen, Earnest added.

"There’a role for a federal judge here, as well," Earnest said of an extradition process he described as "complicated."

On Monday, Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerrySchumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence Trump threatens Iran with increased sanctions after country exceeds uranium enrichment cap The 'invisible primary' has begun MORE said the United States would extradite Gülen if Turkey made a formal request that presented hard evidence of his involvement.

“We need to see genuine evidence that withstands the standard of scrutiny that exists in many countries’ system of law with respect to the issue of extradition,” Kerry said during a news conference in Brussels. “And if it meets that standard, there’s nothing — there’s no interest we have in standing in the way of appropriately honoring the treaty that we have with Turkey with respect to extradition.”

During Tuesday’s address, Yildirim said Turkey is sure Gülen is behind the coup and questioned why the United States is “insistently” asking for evidence.

"It is already clear," Yildirim said. "However, we will provide them with a pile of evidence."

"We have no doubt on the source of this vicious coup and we know all the details over who guided it and how,” he added later.

The deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmuş, also said Tuesday that extraditing Gülen would be the "greatest sign of solidarity,” according to a news release from the ruling party.

Kurtulmuş added that there are 9,322 suspects connected to the coup attempt going through legal proceedings.

“The heaviest possible punishments will be given to those people who have links with the coup attempt,” Kurtulmuş said when asked about the possibility of the death penalty. “We cannot ignore people's demands.”

-- Updated at 5:55 p.m.