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Turkey says its 'anti-Americanism' depends on US response to extradition request for cleric

Ankara is not compromising on its request that the United States extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in Pennsylvania, and who Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his allies blame for orchestrating last month's attempted coup.
Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wave national flags as they listen to him through a giant screen in Istanbul's Taksim Square, Turkey, August 10, 2016. (Osman Orsal/Reuters)

The Turks are not compromising on their request that the United States extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his allies blame for orchestrating last month's attempted coup.

On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim became the latest official to demand Gulen be extradited. Yildirim made his comments to a group of Turkish journalists, who quoted him as saying that US Vice President Joe Biden would visit Turkey on August 24.


"The main element improving our relations with the US is the extradition of Gulen, where there is no room for negotiation," Yildirim was quoted by the general manager of CNN Turk, who attended a briefing from the prime minister.

"Whether or not the anti-Americanism in Turkey will continue is also dependant on this," Yildirim was quoted as saying, Reuters reported.

Erdogan and his allies are angry that the US and other Western countries have not more forcefully condemned the July 15-16 coup attempt by rogue elements of the military, and say the US is more worried about the crackdown than the coup itself.

The violent putsch attempt left 240 people dead.

Related: Erdogan is taking full control of the military himself

The Turkish government under Erdogan has arrested, detained or dismissed tens of thousands of people from the military, education system, judiciary, police, and civil service who officials say are part of a secret Gulen "parallel state," and that his supporters were aware of or supported the coup.

At least 5000 people have been fired during Erdogan's purge, while tens of thousands more have been suspended from their positions, according to Reuters news agency.

Gulen is a former Erdogan ally who is in self-imposed exile in the US, and lives in a compound in rural Pennsylvania. He runs a network of international schools outside Turkey.

Earlier on Saturday the Turkish foreign ministry spokesperson also criticized comments from the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid bin Raad, who said Ankara should rein in its "thirst for revenge" against internal dissenters and critics.


Foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said Zeid's comments were unacceptable.

On Friday, Turkey's foreign minister said his country was looking to extradite 32 diplomats who have ignored a recall order from Ankara.

Related: Putin and Erdogan seem like buddies again after a tense year

Reuters reported that foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a total of 208 Turkish diplomats had been recalled as part of the coup investigation, but 32 of them had fled to other countries. "We have been in contact with the countries where they fled and are working on their extradition," he said.

Turkey is a member of NATO and the Incirlik airbase in the country's south hosts US military forces that are taking part in the air campaign against Islamic State.

On a state visit to Moscow this week, Erdogan agreed to cooperate with Russian President Vladimir Putin's military in the fight against IS. The move was widely seen in the West as a rebuke to the Turk's perception that the Western response to the coup was not sympathetic enough.

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