President Trump on Saturday rejected reports that his administration is considering extraditing a foe of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for a trip to California that extraditing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen was “not under consideration.”
He added that “we’re having a very good moment with Turkey,” referring Erdoğan’s release of American pastor Andrew Brunson last month, and said the U.S. is always looking for “whatever we can do for Turkey.”
NBC News reported Thursday that the Trump White House had directed the Department of Justice and FBI to reexamine a request from Turkey to extradite Gülen.
The report said that cooperation over extradition was an attempt quell tensions between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which are both key allies, over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.
Trump’s comments on Gülen echoed those of other administration officials since the release of NBC’s report.
Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman told Reuters on Friday that the department “has not been involved in nor aware of any discussions” regarding Gülen’s extradition in an attempt to appease Turkey.
A White House official also told Reuters it “has not been involved in any discussions relating the extradition of Fethullah Gülen to the death of Jamal Khashoggi.”