Turkey denies ‘ludicrous’ Gulen kidnap allegations


Turkey denies 'ludicrous' Gulen kidnap allegations

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Michael Flynn is accused of meeting Turkish officials to discuss the removal of a Muslim cleric

Reports that former White House aide Michael Flynn was part of a plot to help forcibly remove a Muslim cleric to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars are "ludicrous", Turkey says.

The Turkish embassy in Washington said the allegations were "utterly false, ludicrous and groundless".

Ex-CIA director James Woolsey revealed an alleged $15m (£11.5m) plan to remove cleric Fethullah Gulen in March.

Turkey accuses Mr Gulen of being behind the failed July 2016 coup.

In a statement, the embassy said: "The Turkish people expect the immediate extradition of Fethullah Gulen from the United States to Turkey, so that he can stand trial."

They added: "All allegations that Turkey would resort to means external to the rule of law for his extradition are utterly false, ludicrous and groundless."

  • Fethullah Gulen: Powerful but reclusive Turkish cleric
  • Michael Flynn: Former US national security adviser

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly called for Mr Gulen's extradition from the US, where he lives in Pennsylvania.

President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is accused of meeting Turkish officials in September 2016 to discuss the removal of Mr Gulen.

My Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner, said the claims were "outrageous".

According to The Wall Street Journal, Mr Flynn – who quit his post after misleading the White House about meeting a Russian envoy before Donald Trump took office – discussed having Mr Gulen transported on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali.

It also reported that a payment was offered.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Turkey accuses Fethullah Gulen of being behind the failed July 2016 coup

The newspaper said the matter had emerged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

Meanwhile, NBC said that federal investigators were also looking into whether Mr Flynn had tried to push for the return of Mr Gulen to Turkey during his time as White House national security adviser.

But Mr Kelner vociferously denied all the allegations. He issued a statement saying that, as a rule, he and his client had avoided responding to media rumours and allegations.

"But today's news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule: they are false," he added.

Ex-CIA chief Mr Woolsey, who is also a board member for Mr Flynn's consultancy, Flynn Intel Group, previously told CNN about a meeting involving Turkish officials in September 2016.

"There was at least some strong suggestion by one or more of the Americans present at the meeting that we would be able, the United States would be able, through them, to be able to get hold of Gulen," he said.

A spokesman for the company denied Mr Flynn had discussed any illegal actions with the officials.

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