US Vice President Joe Biden visited Turkey on Wednesday and said his government was helping a Turkish team prepare a formal extradition request for Fethullah Gulen, the preacher Ankara blames for plotting the July 15 coup attempt.
Gulen, a Turkish Islamic cleric who lives in the U.S. since 1999, denies the charges.
He was a long-time ally of the current Turkish government but they have fallen out in recent years.
“We have no interest whatsoever in protecting anyone who has done harm to an ally, but we need to meet the legal standard requirement under our law,” Biden said at a press conference alongside Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Ankara.
Biden stressed that only a court can extradite the Turkish born Islamic cleric, based on evidence.
Following a later meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Biden again explained the U.S. would follow its judicial process because it had no desire to harbour a terrorist.
He previously commented that he wished Gulen were not in the U.S.
Erdogan, meanwhile, said Gulen should be taken into pre-trial detention and held until a trial.
U.S. officials have said that so far Turkey has not supplied any evidence that Gulen was involved in the coup and only filed documents on alleged crimes unrelated to the failed putsch.
Biden staunchly and repeatedly condemned the coup and also insisted, at times sounding angry, that the U.S. had no hand in plotting it, rebuffing conspiracy theories making the rounds in Turkey.
The vice president spoke of “unwavering support” for Turkey.
Ankara wants Gulen immediately, raising tensions between the allies.
Biden and Yildirim both said they did not accept a new Kurdish entity on Turkey’s border inside Syria.
Turkey has launched a new operation inside Syria, aimed at Islamic State and the Syrian Kurdish forces who have been the key U.S. ally on the ground until now in the war against Islamic State.