By Kerem Kocalar
GAZIANTEP, Turkey (AA) - The U.K. supports Turkey in bringing those responsible in the "totally illegal and anti-constitutional" coup attempt of 2016 to justice, the British Ambassador to Ankara said on Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency in Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep, Dominick Chilcott said the U.K. "certainly" did not want to be seen as a safe haven for those responsible for the failed coup.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
On Nov. 28 a British court rejected Turkey’s request for extradition of three suspects linked to FETO, but the verdict is open to appeal.
Chilcott underlined that, as an "essentially legal issue", the formal position on the extradition of Hamdi Akin Ipek, Talip Buyuk and Ali Celik is that the process is subject to court judgement.
However, he went on to say that there was a "political will" in the British government to help Turkey in dealing with "people who have committed serious crimes in Turkey or are members of terrorist organizations".
- World should follow Turkey’s example on refugees
Decrying the "disturbing and saddening" rise in hate crimes against migrants and refugees, Chilcott stressed the need for political leadership in order to remain welcoming societies.
He lauded Turkey’s acceptance of refugees, saying other countries should "follow Turkey’s example" in welcoming migrants into their communities.
Noting that roughly 420,000 Syrian refugees reside in Gaziantep alone, Chilcott emphasized the "generosity of the Turkish people".
Turkey hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country in the world. The country has spent more than $32 billion from its own national resources for helping and sheltering refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.