Turkey will not compromise with Washington over the extradition of the Islamic cleric it accuses of orchestrating a failed coup, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday, warning of rising anti-Americanism if the United States fails to extradite.
Yildirim's comments, at a briefing for local reporters, were the latest to take aim at Turkey's top NATO ally and coincided with a report that an Istanbul prosecutor wrote to U.S. authorities asking for the detention of cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey says Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania since 1999, masterminded the failed July 15 putsch when a group of rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, warplanes and helicopters in an attempt to overthrow the government. Gulen has denied the charge and condemned the coup.
"There is no compromise apart from this chief terrorist coming to Turkey and being prosecuted," Yildirim was quoted as saying by state-run Anadolu Agency.
"The only way to prevent the rising (negative) sentiment against America is for the U.S. to hand over this man and make sure Turkey's justice system holds him accountable."
Turkey's foreign minister said this week documents had been sent to the United States and that Turkey had received "positive signals" about Gulen's possible extradition. Turkey has not said clearly whether it has filed a formal extradition request.
The White House said on Saturday that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden would visit Turkey on Aug. 24, the first trip by a high-ranking U.S. official since the abortive coup.
Yildirim said a U.S. technical team would visit Turkey on Aug. 22 to discuss legal issues relating to the possible extradition, according to Anadolu. He said Secretary of State John Kerry is due in October, according to broadcaster CNN Turk.
Yildirim said he believed there would be a "positive outcome" with Washington on the extradition, Anadolu said.
U.S. officials have said that the United States has a formal process for dealing with extradition requests and that Turkey must provide solid evidence of Gulen's involvement.
The Istanbul chief prosecutor wrote to U.S. authorities asking for Gulen's detention, CNN Turk said. Turkey's Justice Ministry passed on the letter - which contained 10 charges against Gulen including attempting to overthrow the government - to the United States, it added.