President Barack Obama said Friday that the US government rejects any attempt to overthrow the government in Turkey.
But in response to demands from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the US extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, Obama said that "a legal process" remained before the federal government would do so.
"I had a chance to talk to President Erdogan this week and reiterated what we said from the earliest reports that a coup was being attempted in Turkey, and that is that we strongly reject any attempt to overthrow democracy in Turkey, that we support the democratically elected government there," Obama said at a news conference at the White House.
Turkey has formally requested that the US extradite Gulen, who is living in Pennsylvania and whom Erdogan blames for an attempted coup a week ago that left more than 200 people dead and led to massive arrests.
"What I said to President Erdogan is the same thing I would say to you and anybody else who asks, which is that we have a process here in the United States for dealing with extradition requests made by foreign governments, and it's governed by treaties and by laws, and it's not a decision that I make," Obama said.
Obama called on Erdogan to respect the rule of law in responding to those who attempted to overthrow his government.
"One of the challenges of a Democratic government is making sure that even in the midst of emergencies and passions, we make sure that rule of law and the basic precepts of justice and liberty prevail," Obama said.