President Donald Trump has promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that his administration is looking into extraditing Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim cleric Erdogan has accused of masterminding an attempted coup against him in 2016.
President Trump apparently made the promise to Erdogan during the G20 Summit in Argentina two weeks ago, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday.
Gulen, who has denied any involvement in the coup, has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States and has a Green Card.
Erdogan has been seeking his extradition for some time, even reportedly sending agents to hire former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., to kidnap Gulen and turn him over to Turkish authorities.
Turkey has played a crucial goal in calling out Saudi Arabia’s many lies about how dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, leaking bits of information from their investigation that were nothing short of humiliating for Gulf Arab Kingdom.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (a.k.a. MBS) has denied any connection to Khashoggi’s murder, which took place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was carried out by kill team of 15 Saudi men, including security officers close to the MBS, as well as one of the country’s autopsy experts.
Khashoggi had angered the prince by criticizing his harsh policies on the pages of The Washington Post.
After being brief by Turkish officials on the details of their investigation, CIA Director Gina Haspel returned to the U.S. and oversaw the production of a report saying that MBS was certain to have ordered and overseen Khashoggi’s muder.
President Donald Trump, who has discounted that report, maintains that MBS’s denials are to be believed (he has cited Saudi’s regional challenge to Iran, its purchase of U.S. weapons as well as the amount of money Saudis pay to purchase condominiums from Trump himself as reasons why Saudis are friends of the U.S.).
In other words, what the Trump administration would be doing in extraditing Gulen is putting the life of a U.S. resident in danger in order to cover up the murder of another at the hands of an ally.
In November, it came out that the White House was asking the Justice Department (specifically, the FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security to look into Gulen’s status in the U.S., hoping to find a way to extradite him.
There was pushback at the agencies, and at the White House denied that this was the case, saying it “has not been involved in any discussions relating the extradition of Fethullah Gulen to the death of Jamal Khashoggi.”
President Trump’s support of Saudi Arabia has been criticized since Khashoggi’s murder in October and reports of increasing starvation in Yemen, where the U.S. supports Saudi-led airstrikes in support of the Yemeni government in its civil war against the Houthi rebels.
The Republican-led Senate on Thursday passed two resolutions, one calling for the end of U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen, the other blaming MBS for Khashoggi’s murder.