DoJ, following White House, denies involvement with Gülen extradition deal

The U.S. Justice Department has denied that it was involved with plans to facilitate the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who currently lives in self-imposed exile in the United States.

Talk of an extradition deal made waves when it was covered by the American NBC networkon Thursday. NBC's report, based on statements made by four U.S. officials, said the deal had been designed to persuade the Turkish president to ease off on a probe over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was murdered while in his country's embassy in Istanbul.

According to Voice of America's Turkish service, Justice Department's spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman denied the NBC report and said the DoJ “has not been involved in nor (is) aware of any discussions” linking an extradition of Gülen and the death of Khashoggi.

On Thursday, during the press conference, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said there was no relation between Khashoggi and the Gülen extradition. “We have received multiple requests from Turkish gov’t ... related to Mr. Gülen. We continue to evaluate material Turkish gov’t presents ... this is fully handled by the Justice," she said.

Nauert added that the "White House has not been involved related to the extradition of Gülen," without making a clear denial on behalf of the State Department. 

Following the Oct.17 visit to Ankara, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that he had talked about the extradition of Fethullah Gulen and discussed his organization with the Turkish officials. According to NBC, Turkish officials' main ask was Gulen's extradition during that visit.

Fethullah Gulen and his movement, called the Gülen Movement, were allies of the governing party, led by Mr. Tayyip Erdogan before the 17-25 December corruption cases that shook the country. Gulen is also accused of masterminding the botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Gülen denies both charges.