PARIS: US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for a failed coup attempt a year ago, told French TV Tuesday that he did not believe he would be extradited to Turkey.
Turkey marked the first anniversary of the attempted putsch on Saturday with mass rallies and bellicose speeches by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who told hundreds of thousands of supporters in Istanbul that he was thinking of bringing back the death penalty for coup plotters.
On the eve of the anniversary Gulen, who lives at a compound in rural Pennsylvania, denied any involvement in what he called a “despicable” episode.
On Tuesday Gulen told France 24 he did not take the threat of extradition to Turkey seriously.
“Because whatever the personal opinion (of US President Donald Trump), I don’t think he would risk damaging the United States’ reputation around the world by giving in to the unreasonable demands of the Turkish president,” Gulen said in remarks delivered in Turkish and translated into French.
“So I’m not worried about this possibility.”
The Turkish authorities have arrested at least 50,000 people and sacked more than 100,000 in the wake of the attempted coup.
Gulen repeated his call for an international investigation of the plot, with members drawn from NATO, the International Criminal Court and the European Parliament.
“If they find even the slightest connection with me I will buy my own ticket to leave this country,” Gulen said.