ISTANBUL – Agence France-Presse

CHP presidential candidate warns ‘key US base to close if Gülen not extradited’

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate in Turkey’s upcoming presidential elections has threatened to shut down a key American military base by Christmas unless the United States extradites Fethullah Gülen, who is widely believed have orchestrated the coup attempt in 2016.

Turkish authorities have repeatedly asked Washington to extradite Fethullah Gülen, who lives in self-exile in Pennsylvania.

“Washington must extradite Fethullah Gülen from the United States,” Muharrem İnce told Turkey’s Fox TV in an interview late on May 16.

“If you [the United States] don’t return him, we will shut down İncirlik and send U.S. soldiers back on Dec. 24 and they can celebrate Christmas with their families,” he added.

The U.S. maintains a key base at İncirlik, a military airport located in southern Turkey, as a hub for operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

It also houses a stockpile of dozens of American tactical nuclear weapons.

İnce, 54, is seeking to convince voters he is a credible choice as he runs against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the June 24 elections, which will be a landmark in modern Turkish history.