The State Department did not specify what the Turkish cleric was being sought for, as Joe Biden is expected to meet Erdoan on Wednesday in wake of foiled plot
The US has confirmed it has received a formal extradition request from Ankara for the Turkish cleric Fethullah Glen, but not over the July coup attempt the Turkish authorities has accused Glen of orchestrating.
The state departments announcement came after US officials met their Turkish counterparts in Ankara to discuss Glen, who has lived in rural Pennsylvania for the past 17 years in self-imposed exile. Vice-president Joe Biden is expected in the Turkish capital on Wednesday to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoan.
According to the White House, Biden will emphasise ongoing strong support for Turkish democracy in the wake of the foiled coup by a segment of the armed forces, but the Turkish leader is expected to focus his attention on the Muslim cleric, who was once his ally but whose presence in the US has now become a serious irritant in relations between Washington and Ankara.
Erdoan has previously warned the Obama administration it had to choose between Turkey and Glen.
We can confirm now that Turkey has requested the extradition of Glen, a state department spokesman, Mark Toner, told journalists on Tuesday.
Toner added that the extradition request was not related to the 15 July attempted coup, but was for other issues for which Glen was being sought by authorities in Ankara. He did not specify what those issues were.
Erdoans government has blamed Glen for orchestrating the abortive putsch, in which over 200 people were killed, and has rounded up his alleged supporters. Ten of thousands of suspected Glen supporters have been dismissed from jobs in the judiciary, armed services or media, and many have been imprisoned.
Earlier this months, the state department said that it had received a sheaf of documents from Turkey about Glen, but could not confirm at that time the documents amounted to an extradition request. Any such request and US response, they said, would be governed by the extradition treaty both countries signed in 1981.
From the US, Glen has run an extensive social network in Turkey, promoting interfaith dialogue and providing social services. It operated in partnership with Erdoans Justice and Development party (AKP) until the relationship between the two men soured in 2012 and then turned to enmity the following year, when a corruption scandal erupted implicating the presidents closest associates and family. Erdoan blamed Glen for planting the allegations. The Turkish government has since described the Glen movement as a terrorist organisation.