Obama: US had no role in Turkish coup

Obama: US had no role in Turkish coup
© Getty Images

President Obama on Friday vehemently denied that the U.S. had any involvement in or prior knowledge of this month’s failed coup attempt in Turkey. 

“Any reports that we had any previous knowledge of a coup attempt, that there was any U.S. involvement in it, that we were anything other than entirely supportive of Turkish democracy are completely false, unequivocally false,” he said at a news conference with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Obama said he relayed that message directly to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a phone call earlier this week. 

“He needs to make sure that not just he, but everybody in his government, understand that those reports are completely false,” Obama said of the Turkish leader.

“We deplore the attempted coup," he added. "We said so earlier than just about anybody and have been consistent throughout that the Turkish people deserve a government that was democratically elected.”

Erdogan has accused followers of religious cleric Fethullah Gülen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, of plotting the coup attempt. The Turkish government has formally requested that Gülen be extradited as it seeks to round up figures suspected to be behind the coup.

Gülen has denied that he had any role in the coup.

Obama said that the U.S. would consider any extradition request through its regular legal process, adding that he would not personally intervene in the case. 

“They should present us with evidence that they think indicates the involvement of Mr. Gülen or anybody else who is here in the United States, and it would be processed the way that it is always processed,” he said. “We would certainly take any allegations like this seriously.”

But he stressed that “America's governed by the rule of law, and those are not ones that the president of the United States or anybody else can just set aside for the sake of expediency.”

Erdoğan has taken drastic measures in response to the coup attempt, such as declaring a three-month state of emergency. Human rights groups have expressed concern he could use the coup as a pretext to further restrict freedoms.