There’s a name we haven’t seen crop up in the news for quite a while. According to anonymous sources who worked at the White House (as always), exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen was a frequent topic of conversation between Rudy Giuliani and President Trump. Rudy had allegedly been pushing Trump to extradite Gulen to Turkey, a demand that’s constantly been made by their tyrant, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trump appears to have eventually been unswayed by the arguments, however. (WaPo)
Rudolph W. Giuliani privately urged President Trump in 2017 to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the United States, a top priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to multiple former administration officials familiar with the discussions.
Giuliani, a Trump ally who later became the president’s personal attorney, repeatedly argued to Trump that the U.S. government should eject Fethullah Gulen from the country, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition on anonymity to describe private conversations.
Turkey has demanded that the United States turn over Gulen, a permanent U.S. resident who lives in Pennsylvania, to stand trial on charges of plotting a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan. Gulen has denied involvement in the plot.
As you may recall, Gulen was a prominent figure in the ongoing negotiations to get Erdogan to release American pastor Andrew Brunson. The Tyrant of Turkey has consistently blamed Gulen for the failed coup attempt a couple of years ago and was trying to use Brunson as a bargaining chip to get his hands on him. Trump eventually secured Brunson’s release last September without turning the cleric over.
We still really don’t know much about Gulen as far as whether or not he (or his surrogates) were actually involved in the coup. I don’t know if he’s one of the good guys or one of the bad guys. But what we can be pretty sure of is that if he gets sent back to Turkey he’ll immediately wind up in a dungeon, assuming they don’t just execute him immediately.
So why was Rudy so anxious to turn him over? He had some clients in Turkey prior to working for the President as his attorney but was never an official lobbyist for the country. Giuliani told the WaPo that the story was “bull” so we can take this all with at least a small grain of salt. But it probably wouldn’t be all that surprising. If he was pushing to release Gulen in an effort to secure Brunson’s release, that would at least have given him a noble motivation, even if it wasn’t a good strategy. But if he was just doing it to curry favor with Erdogan it’s going to be yet another dark cloud around his head as the current investigations move forward.
Of course, all of this is almost certainly water under the bridge by now. After Erdogan attacked the Kurds and shelled some of our troops “accidentally” this week, he certainly can’t be expecting any favors from us. So Gulen should be able to rest easy in Pennsylvania for a while longer.