President Donald Trump said Saturday that he is not considering extraditing a Turkish cleric who has been blamed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a failed coup in 2016.
“No, it’s not under consideration,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about the cleric, Fethullah Gulen. “We are looking, always looking, and whatever we can do for Turkey and, frankly, countries that we can get along with very well. We’re having a very good moment with Turkey.”
Trump said he gets along “very, very well” with Erdogan and called him a “friend of mine.”
“Whatever we can do, we’ll do,” Trump added. “But that is something that we’re always looking at. But at this point, no.”
The Turkish government has long demanded the US extradite Gulen, who has been in self-imposed exile in Pennsyvlania since 1999.
Erdogan has deemed Gulen responsible for a deadly attempted coup against him in 2016 – a charge Gulen has denied.
Gulen has been described by supporters as a moderate Muslim cleric who champions interfaith dialogue. The reclusive imam has a loyal following – known as Gulenists – in Turkey, who all subscribe to the Hizmet movement.
The Hizmet movement identifies itself as an Islam-inspired cultural, civic, and educational movement. The Turkish government has labeled it a terrorist organization.
CNN’s Amy La Porte, Ivan Watson and Gul Tuysuz contributed to this report.