Istanbul, Aug 14 () President Tayyip Erdoğan has said Turkey will no longer extradite criminal suspects to Germany if Berlin does not agree to extradite two controversial former Turkish prosecutors who recently fled there.
Former prosecutors Zekeriya Öz and Celal Kara fled to Armenia through Georgia on Aug. 10 before going on to Germany after learning of an upcoming arrest warrant issued in Öz’s name over “coup attempt” charges.
Öz had previously handled probes into controversial coup cases in Turkey with Erdoğan’s support, but became the latter’s bête noire after launching the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption probe, the country’s most extensive corruption investigation to date, which implicated several figures close to Erdoğan.
“It is highly probable that [Interpol] red notices will be issued quickly about them. We’ll see what Germany will do with the red notice. If it does not [extradite the two prosecutors to Turkey], then it will not be able to get any criminals back from us with Tayyip Erdoğan’s signature on it” Erdoğan said in an address in the Black Sea province of Rize on Aug. 14.
“Turkey is not a banana republic” he added.
Öz and Kara were able to leave Turkey freely as an arrest warrant for them had yet to be issued when they crossed the border.
Ironically, many suspects who were detained during the flawed coup investigations conducted by Öz had opted to stay in Turkey, and in some cases even returned to the country from abroad although they knew that they would be arrested on arrival.
Öz was accused of being a follower of the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, the government’s ally-turned-archenemy, whose movement was believed to wield significant influence within Turkish state institutions, particularly the judiciary and the police.