- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

President Obama told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call Tuesday that the U.S. is willing to provide “appropriate” help to Turkish authorities investigating an attempted coup plot, but the White House’s description of the call sidestepped Mr. Erdogan’s desire to extradite an opposition cleric living in the U.S.

Mr. Obama urged the Turkish leader to prosecute the coup’s perpetrators “in ways that reinforce public confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law,” the White House said.

“The president lauded the Turkish people’s resolve against this violent intervention and their commitment to democracy,” the statement said.

The coup attempt, which was launched Friday night, was eventually defeated by Turkish forces loyal to Mr. Erdogan. The government has rounded up thousands of military officers and others suspected of taking part in the attempt to overthrow Mr. Ergodan.

The Turkish leader blames the attempted coup of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, 77, who lives in northeast Pennsylvania in self-imposed exile. Mr. Gulen told reporters this week that he wasn’t involved in the coup.

Turkey formally requested Tuesday that the U.S. extradite Mr. Gulen to face charges related to the attempted coup. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama and Mr. Erdogan did discuss the cleric, but Mr. Obama doesn’t make decisions about extradition.

Mr. Obama told the Turkish leader that the U.S. “doesn’t support terrorists, [and] the United States doesn’t support individuals who conspired to overthrow democratically elected governments.”

“There also is due process to which people who live in the United States are entitled to,” he said. “We will make sure that due process is followed.”

He said the Department of Justice and the Department of State will review Turkey’s request under the terms of an extradition treaty between the two countries.

Turkey is a NATO ally and a key partner in the U.S.-led effort to destroy the Islamic State extremist group in Syria and Iraq.

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