President Donald Trump on Saturday said he was not considering extraditing a US-based Muslim cleric to Turkey as part of an effort to ease pressure on Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.
“No, it’s not under consideration,” Trump told reporters when asked about potential extradition of Fethullah Gülen, who is wanted in Turkey on accusations he was involved in a failed coup in 2016.
NBC News reported on Thursday the Trump administration had explored if it could extradite Gülen as a way to persuade Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to ease pressure on Saudi Arabia over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul last month.
Trump has sought closer ties with Saudi Arabia, citing Riyadh’s role in countering Iranian influence in the region and billions of dollars in potential arms deals.
The Justice Department had denied on Friday the matter had been discussed.
On Saturday Trump said he got along well with Erdogan and spoke of a desire to improve relations with Turkey. He also described Saudi Arabia as “a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development.”