Turkey pressures Kyrgyzstan to extradite 130 ‘Gulenists’

BISHKEK/Sept. 5 (The Conway Bulletin) — Less than a week after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Bishkek, Turkey has piled more pressure on Kyrgyzstan to deport people it says are Gulenist supporters of a failed 2016 coup.

Unnamed Turkish security sources told the Istanbul-based Hurriyet newspaper that Turkey had handed Kyrgyz officials a list of 130 people it wanted extraditing.

“We particularly want the extradition of 13 people on this list. These are senior figures within FETO, including the ‘imam’ of Central Asia,” he was quoted as saying. FETO is the name given by Turkey to a group of Gulenists it has labelled as a terrorist organisation.

Supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric who was once an ally of Mr Erdogan, set up schools, universities and businesses across Central Asia in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Kyrgyz government has so far been unwilling to yield to Turkish pressure to extradite Gulenists. Other countries in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, though, have acquiesced to Turkish demands and analysts have said that with Sooronbai Jeenbekov taking over the Kyrgyz Presidency at the end of last year, Kyrgyzstan may follow.

Turkey was one of Mr Jeenbekov’s first overseas destinations as president and Mr Erdogan was in Kyrgyzstan at the start of September urging his counterpart to deport more Gulenist suspects.


>>The story was first published in issue 384 of The Conway Bulletin newspaper. This is a weekly newspaper reporting on Central Asia and the South Caucasus

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