ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 13 (UPI) — Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said there is “no compromise” in his nation’s demand for the United States to extradite a Muslim cleric they believe orchestrated a failed coup attempt to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month.
Yildirim told reporters in Ankara his government has not backed down from demands the U.S. government hand over Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who lives in Pennsylvania and runs a series of influential Muslim schools outside Turkey. Erdogan and Gulen had a falling out and the Turkish government has accused Gulen of using a wide communications network he set up to organize and direct the bloody coup attempt along with rogue elements of the Turkish military.
The failed attempt to dislodge Erdogen left 240 people dead.
Yildirim said more than 81,000 government employees have either been suspended or fired from their jobs for allegedly being party to the coup attempt, though he acknowledged the government was having difficulty determining which individuals actively supported it from those who were caught up in it by chance.
He said 76,597 had been suspended and 4,897 were dismissed, according to remarks reported by the state-sponsored AA news agency.
Yildirim also said the future of U.S.-Turkish relations is dependent on the United States cooperating with their request to extradite Gulen. The United States has so far refused to do so.
“The main element improving our relations with the U.S. is the extradition of Gulen, where there is no room for negotiation,” he said. “Whether or not the anti-Americanism in Turkey will continue is also dependent on this.”