Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Trump Didn’t Commit to Extraditing Turkish Cleric, Official Says

Turkey earlier this year released US pastor Andrew Brunson at Trump’s insistence

The US has denied that President Donald Trump has committed to extraditing Fethullah Gulen to Turkey. AP
The US has denied that President Donald Trump has committed to extraditing Fethullah Gulen to Turkey. AP

President Donald Trump didn’t commit to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would extradite a US-based religious leader Turkey has accused of instigating an attempted coup, a senior White House official said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday that Mr Trump had told Mr Erdogan he was “working on” the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at a meeting during the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires earlier this month. But the US official, who asked not to be identified in order to discuss the private conversation, indicated Mr Trump’s commitment did not extend beyond previous assurances to consider Turkey’s extradition request.

Mr Gulen has publicly denied a role in the failed 2016 coup, and US officials have thus far sidestepped repeated Turkish requests to turn over the cleric. Last month, Mr Trump told reporters the extradition was “not under consideration.”

Washington’s reluctance to extradite Mr Gulen is one of several points of tension between the US and its NATO ally Turkey. The two countries have disagreed on a number of issues, including the US response to the Saudi killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey’s plan to buy a missile-defense system from Russia, and the US alliance with Kurdish militants in Syria that Turkey considers a foe.

Turkey earlier this year released Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in the country on espionage charges, at Trump’s insistence.

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Updated: December 18, 2018 08:50 AM

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