Gülen’s extradition to Turkey not under consideration, says Trump

The U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday he was not considering extraditing U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara accuses of masterminding the July 2016 coup attempt, to Turkey as part of an effort to ease pressure on Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.

Noting that he got along well with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and stating his desire to improve relations with Turkey, Trump said extraditing Gülen was “ not under consideration.''

“Whatever we can do for Turkey, and frankly countries that we get along with very well. We’re having a very good moment with Turkey,” he told reporters, according to a pool report released by White House.

“I get along very well with the president, he’s a friend of mine. He’s a strong man, he’s tough man, and he’s a smart man,” said also Trump.

NBC News reported Thursday the U.S. administration had designed a deal to extradite Gülen in order to persuade the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to ease off his pressure on Saudi Arabia over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a journalist critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered while in his country's embassy in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Prince Mohammed, a key ally of the U.S. administration, has been in a tough position since it emerged that the Turkish government possessed evidence on Khashoggi’s murder that might implicate the crown prince.

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.