NBC: U.S. is evaluating Turkish materials on Fethullah Gulen
The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests, NBC reports.
Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.
The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey's case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.
They said the White House specifically wanted details about Gulen's residency status in the U.S. Gulen has a Green Card, according to two people familiar with the matter. He has been living in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.
Career officials at the agencies pushed back on the White House requests, the U.S. officials and people briefed on the requests said.
"At first there were eye rolls, but once they realized it was a serious request, the career guys were furious," said a senior U.S. official involved in the process.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council initially declined to comment on this story but after it published, said in a statement: "The NSC has not been involved in nor aware of any discussions relating the extradition of Fethullah Gulen to the death of Jamal Khashoggi."
The State Department, Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.
A lawyer representing Gulen declined to comment. The FBI also declined to comment.
A Turkish official said the government does not link its concerns about the Khashoggi murder with Gulen's extradition case.
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