John Kirby Daily Press Briefing Reporter Plays Pokemon Go
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[John Kirby Daily Press Briefing Reporter Plays Pokemon Go]
[John Kirby (State Department Spokesman):] Source: LYBIO.net
Good afternoon, everybody.
[John Kirby:] Bless you. All right. Today, I think as you know, here at the State Department, representatives of more than 40 members of the Counter-ISIL Coalition assembled to review the campaign to date and explore ways that we can further accelerate the defeat of Daesh. This is the first joint ministerial of the global coalition focused on further degrading Daesh’s global networks, ideology, resources, the flow of foreign fighters, their communications, and of course, their efforts to attract new recruits.
Yesterday, also I think as you know, the Secretary hosted the Pledging Conference for Iraq, which raised over $2.1 billion from the international community, to include $316 million from the United States – funds that will provide Iraq with critical stabilization and humanitarian support. And I think you’ve seen the joint statement from this very successful effort.
Also on Wednesday, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel hosted a meeting of the Counter-ISIL Coalition Communications Working Group here in Washington in coordination with the working groups co-leads, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The meeting brought more than 25 coalition partners, the interagency, and private sector representatives to enhance cooperation to counter ISIL’s messaging and provide effective alternatives. As the amount of anti-ISIL content continues to eclipse pro-ISIL content online, the working group renewed its commitment to launching innovative international campaigns and expanding regional and global networks and accelerating global efforts to confront them in the information space.
As the Secretary said earlier today, though, and I think it’s an important reminder – you’re playing the Pokemon thing right there, aren’t you?
[Reporter:] I’m just keeping an eye on it.
[John Kirby:] It’s an important reminder – we know this won’t be easy. We recognize it’s a challenge, and we’re clear-eyed about the work we still have to do. This is why we convened this important ministerial and will continue to work with our coalition partners to defeat Daesh.
Did you get one?
[Question:] Source: LYBIO.net
No. The signal is not very good.
[John Kirby:] Sorry about that. Brad.
[Question:] I just wanted to ask first about the travel warning you just moved on Jeddah, which warned of an eminent threat against U.S. citizens.
[John Kirby:] Right.
[Question:] Do you – is this information that you have received from the Saudis or information that you are passing to the Saudis right now?
[John Kirby:] Well, it’s a security message, not a travel warning, that our consulate put out in Jeddah. I’m not at liberty, as I think you can understand, to get into the specifics of the information which led us to issue this message. But obviously, our consulate felt that the information they had was credible enough and serious enough to warrant sending that message out immediately. So, again, I’m going to refer you to the language in the message really to speak for itself, and I’m really not at liberty to get into more detail at this time.
The one thing I would say, though – if you don’t mind a quick commercial – is this is exactly why we want people to sign up for the Smart Travelers Program, to log on to travel.state.gov and sign up, because this is the kind of information that’ll get pushed to you instantaneously if you’re an American traveling overseas and the kind of stuff we want you to know about.
[Question:] Why isn’t this –
[Question:] Just can you remind me – this security message, this is not a generic threat; this is specific actionable intelligence and that’s why you’re warning people about –
[John Kirby:] The message is very clearly written and, I think, concise in making it clear that there is a potential specific threat to Americans traveling to Jeddah, and in particular public venues in Jeddah. So it’s very specific to the location, and it’s – and it makes it clear that this is a potential threat to Americans there.
[Question:] Why isn’t this – I mean, you kind of emphasized that it’s not a travel warning; it’s a security message. But why isn’t it a travel warning? I mean, a specific actionable, imminent –
[John Kirby:] Sure.
[Question:] – threat is the most serious kind that you have.
[John Kirby:] Sure. Well, first of all, there is already a travel warning in place for Saudi Arabia that we issued only back in April – so just a few months ago. And as you know, Elise, we update them either circumstantially or sequentially usually ever six months or so. So I can’t rule out that an updated travel warning could be in the offing, but it was a pretty recent one. And it also advised Americans to be vigilant as they travel to Saudi Arabia. It didn’t tell them not to go, it just advised them –
[Question:] Well –
[John Kirby:] – advised them of the potential for security issues there and to be vigilant as they travel.
[Question:] I –
[John Kirby:] This is a – this security message is a completely different document that is based on more immediate concerns that we have in a very confined geographic location.
[Question:] Is this a specific period of time or something like that? Because I would think that if there’s, again, a specific imminent, credible threat to Americans that you would be like, “Don’t travel there.” I mean, that usually you do. When you have something very specific, you warn against travel at least for a specific period of time or stay away from a specific period of time. The advice is kind of vague in terms of dealing how Americans should counter the threat.
[John Kirby:] Well, look, this information just recently became available to us. The consulate did exactly what they should do, which is get the word out to Americans there in Saudi Arabia, specifically in Jeddah. There wasn’t a time limit put on it, nor do I think we would want to do that right now, just as we continue to try to get more situational awareness on the threat. But we felt that the information was credible enough and specific enough that it warranted an immediate security message. Obviously, we’re going to watch this going forward very, very clearly. And as I said, we haven’t updated the travel warning, but I can’t rule out that that might happen going forward.
[Question:] Can we change –
[John Kirby:] Go ahead. Yeah. You want to –
[Question:] Change the subject.
[John Kirby:] Sure.
[Question:] Yeah. Can you talk about what’s going in Turkey right now? I mean, the pictures of tanks rolling through the streets and also of people being led out of buildings with their hands behind their backs, some of them in blindfold. I mean, I just want to follow up on our question to Secretary Kerry yesterday – 50,000 people rounded up, not just military and government officials, but university professors –
[John Kirby:] Sure.
[Question:] I mean, is there a concern that, even as you support their desire for an investigation, that this is heavy-handed and excessive?
[John Kirby:] Well, I think the Secretary spoke to that yesterday and made clear that we believe certainly the attempted overthrow of a democratically elected government by military force is wrong and we condemned it, and we stand by that condemnation of this attempted coup. And he also talked about – and I think very frankly with you yesterday talked about – our concerns about –
[Question:] No, he didn’t. He didn’t. Well –
[John Kirby:] – due process and about moving forward in observation of not just the rule of law but also Turkey’s own democratic institutions, as enshrined in their own constitution. And so he’s already spoken to this, and I’d point you back to what he said yesterday, because it’s still valid today. Obviously – obviously, Elise – we’re watching events as they unfold there, and our ambassador is engaged nearly constantly with his interlocutors there in Turkey. As you know, the Secretary spoke to the foreign minister four times in the last several days. So we’re in touch with Turkish authorities and we’re certainly watching events closely.
[Question:] Well, what the Secretary offered was kind of a cautionary note about the need to see the democratic process play out and that the Turks are mindful of all that. What I’m asking is: What you’re seeing, the reports that you’re getting internally and what you’re seeing on TV – is that consistent with those? It seems very heavy-handed and excessive, and I want to know if you’re concerned by what you see.
[John Kirby:] We’ve been – I mean, we’ve been concerned about the situation since the attempted coup, and that’s why we’re in touch with our Turkish counterparts.
[Question:] You don’t think it’s excessive?
[John Kirby:] Again, as the Secretary said yesterday, I mean, we need to stay in touch with Turkish authorities and talk to them as they work their way through this. But if you’re asking me to put a bumper sticker on it today and characterize it one way or the other –
[Question:] The White House said –
[John Kirby:] – I don’t –
[Question:] The White House said that – Josh Earnest said that he thought that he realized why Turks must feel unease about what they’re seeing. Do you feel unease about what you’re seeing?
[John Kirby:] I would share Josh’s points, that obviously there’s a lot of activity right now going on, and it’s difficult for us to know with precision exactly every decision they’re making and why they’re making it. That’s why we’re –
[Question:] Fifty thousand people?
[John Kirby:] That’s why we’re going to stay in touch with them and monitor this as closely as we can going forward. Look, Turkey’s not just a friend, they’re a NATO ally. And we take the partnership with Turkey bilaterally and multilaterally. And I would remind you that Turks are represented here today in this counter-ISIL coalition meeting. We take this relationship very seriously. And as I’ve said many times from the podium, even as friends, we’re not afraid to have candid, forthright conversations with one another. Those kinds of conversations are happening and they’ll continue to happen.
[Question:] Can I –
[John Kirby:] But I just don’t think that we’re in a position right now, given these still early days, to broadly characterize everything that’s going on and every decision that’s been made.
[Question:] Can I ask –
[Question:] Well, it seems – well, just one more.
[John Kirby:] Wait a second. Nor am I going to get into a daily habit of litigating every decision that they make as they make it.
[Question:] Well, without –
[John Kirby:] They had a threat to their government, to their democratically elected government. And I think we can all understand that that kind of threat needed to be taken seriously. And we share the deep concern over this attempted coup.
[Question:] I understand that. But you’re also urging them to calibrate their response. And it certainly doesn’t look like they’re heeding your warnings. And by not saying anything about any kind of disproportionate – the president pretty much said that he saw this as an opportunity to kind of crack down on dissent. And I’m wondering if you think that being muted in your response is any kind of yellow or green light for them to continue and expand this crackdown.
[John Kirby:] Well, I disagree that we’re being muted in our response.
[John Kirby:] I just don’t simply share that –
[Question:] You don’t – you’re not concerned about what you see in the streets, when 50,000 people are being – I mean, the Europeans yesterday were very vocal at that press conference. Both the German and the Dutch foreign minister said what we’re seeing is really concerning to us.
[John Kirby:] And the Secretary – and we have said all along that we are concerned –
[Question:] The Secretary did not say that.
[John Kirby:] We’re concerned – obviously we’re concerned about what’s going in Turkey and what – and we’re staying in close touch with Turkish authorities as they work through this. So I mean, I think, again, the Secretary’s made clear our concerns on both sides of the ledger – on the attempted overthrow of a democratic government by military force, and about our legitimate, very friendly concerns over democratic institutions in Turkey and seeing that they move forward in a responsible way, guided by the rule of law and due process and their own constitution.
[Question:] John, can I ask you, since you mentioned their own constitution, it’s changing by the minute. Do you agree with the notion that the president should have extended powers – powers for extended detention of specific suspects?
[John Kirby:] I’m not in a position to have full visibility on legislative –
[Question:] What about –
[John Kirby:] Hang on a second, Brad – legislative decisions that they are in the process of making.
[Question:] Well, I don’t want to hear what you don’t want to do. I want to hear what you can say. And since you didn’t want to speak about the broad brushstroke, I’m asking you specific questions.
[John Kirby:] We’re – we are – look, as I said before, Brad, Turkey’s democracy matters to us. We want to see, as I’ve said before, that they live up to the democratic principles that are enshrined in their own constitution as they work through this very tense, very anxiety-filled time, and we understand that. But I’m not –
[Question:] Do you support –
[John Kirby:] I’m not in a position –
[Question:] Do you support the right of the president to be able to pass laws without parliamentary approval?
[John Kirby:] We support the –
[Question:] That seemed to be enshrined in the constitution until recently.
[John Kirby:] As we’ve said before, we support the democratic principles that are enshrined in the Turkish constitution. Now, as they work through this, their –
[Question:] Constitutions change, though.
[John Kirby:] As – well, Brad, look, I’m not –
[Question:] Is –
[Question:] And they are changing.
[John Kirby:] I’m not an expert on the constitutional changes that are occurring there. I’ve seen press reports of decisions that they are preparing to make. As far as I know, no laws have yet actually changed. And so I’m not going to speculate, I’m not going to hypothesize, I’m not going to cast judgment on decisions that – at least legislative decisions that haven’t been made yet. We are in close touch with them. We’re going to stay in close touch with them. Turkey matters to us as a friend and an ally; so does their democracy. And the will of the Turkish people obviously is important to us as well. So we’re – I’m just not going to, again, get ahead of things right now.
[Question:] Have you looked at this – at the provisions of the state of emergency, of the extra powers that it gives the government? I mean, there’s a very long list, and I would say, like, a good three-quarters of them are against things that you say from this podium that you’re against from other countries every day.
[John Kirby:] As I do and many other places around the world –
[Question:] Ban the print and distribution of journals, magazines, newspapers. Can rule by decree. Order NGOs to cease operations for a specific period of time. Ban or restrict people from going or gathering in certain areas, both public and private. Search anyone or anything without authorization from a judge. These are things that from this podium, when another country would do it, you would say this is a violation of human rights, not against democratic principles. Are these consistent with the democratic principles that you’re preaching from this podium all the time?
[John Kirby:] I’m not preaching from the podium. I’m trying to articulate U.S. foreign policy and our views.
[Question:] This seems pretty much in – not in accordance with U.S. foreign policy.
[John Kirby:] Again, if you’d just let me finish, then I can – I’m happy to answer the question. We’re watching this very closely, Elise. And as I also am mindful of doing from the podium, I don’t – I don’t comment about pending legislation here in the United States, and we don’t make it a habit –
[Question:] Well, the – the state of emergency is actually instituted right now.
[John Kirby:] I understand that they’ve issued a state of emergency. And again, given that the government was under a threat of overthrow by military force, it is not beyond the pale that they would have to make some decisions about law and order there in their country. We are in touch with them. We’re going to stay in touch with them, and I’m not going to characterize each and every decision that they’re making as they’re making it. We need to learn more, frankly, about this pending legislation and about their intent going forward, and about how they’re going to implement the state of emergency – for how long, with what measures – before we’re going to be in a position to comment one way or the other specifically.
[Question:] The government said that the state – one more time. I’m sorry. The government said that the state of emergency is being implemented to order the counter-effect of the Gulenists, followers of the Muslim cleric, who the government blames for the coup. So basically, in this state of emergency, they are giving themselves the powers to round anybody up that has anything to do with Gulen.
[John Kirby:] Obviously, we don’t want to see excessive measures be applied, clearly.
[Question:] And you don’t see them being applied?
[John Kirby:] What I’m saying is we’re watching this closely and we’re going to stay in touch with them, and we’re going to register – if we have concerns, we’re going to do that through diplomatic channels, as we typically do with other countries around the world. But we’re watching this very closely. And I’m not trying to be evasive here. Turkey –
[Question:] Kind of – well, you seem like you are. I’m not saying you’re trying to be, but you are being evasive.
[John Kirby:] (Laughter.) Fair enough. But again, Turkey matters to us as a friend and an ally. Their democracy matters to us, and we’ve said that many times. It matters so much to us that we are going to stay in close touch with them going forward. But again, we have to be also mindful that they’ve – that they have gone through a significant emergency and a threat to their own democracy.
[Question:] Can I just ask one point of clarification? In a lot of your statements and also in remarks you’ve referred to the democratically elected government, but there’s been very little said about whether you believe Turkey has a democratic government, not elected, just that it is a democratic government. Do you see right now the Turkish Government as a democratic government?
[John Kirby:] We still continue to see Turkey as a democracy, yes.
[Question:] As a functioning democracy?
[John Kirby:] As a democracy.
[Question:] John, kind of simple either/or thing on this, then. Is – today, given that the coup was defeated, a greater threat to Turkish democracy comes from the threat of another insurrection or government overreach? Which is the greater of the two threats?
[John Kirby:] I’m not in a position to be able to characterize that, Dave. I mean, I think any democratic government that faced what they faced just a few days ago – and let’s be mindful of the calendar here, this wasn’t that long ago – you can understand that they have a responsibility to investigate. They have a responsibility to hold those who are responsible for it to account. It’s also reasonable to expect that they don’t have perfect information. Again, I’m not justifying every decision that they’re making and I’m not – or defending it, but I – what I’m saying is that it’s – I think it should be reasonable to anybody to understand that they would have to do – to investigate and to look as widely as they feel they need to to try to get better information, more specific information about who was responsible and how they were able to get that far in their planning.
So again, we’ve made clear our condemnation of the attempt, but we’ve also made clear – and the Secretary was clear about this – about our concern about the rule of law going forward and due process. Those concerns on both sides of the ledger remain valid today, as they did yesterday, and they will remain valid again going forward tomorrow.
[Question:] He said he was concerned that the rule of law be respected. He didn’t say that he was concerned that the rule of law is not being respected. Which is it?
[John Kirby:] He said –
[Question:] No, he didn’t. I –
[John Kirby:] Elise, he also said in his answer to you that we’re watching this closely, that we’re in touch with Turkish authorities, and that we’re going to work through diplomatic channels to make sure that we better understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
[Question:] Well, if you don’t have concerns about what they’re doing, then why would you need better information?
[John Kirby:] I didn’t say we didn’t have concerns. I said – I’ve said numerous times in my exchange with you today that we’re obviously concerned about what’s going on. They do have a responsibility to hold those responsible to account, as you –
[Question:] Don’t they have a responsibility to do an investigation before they know who’s responsible, before detaining 50,000 people?
[John Kirby:] And I believe that they are investigating. And again, the how and the process, obviously, we’re watching very closely.
[Question:] I’m just going to say I’m just in here for two very brief questions as a cameo appearance slightly.
[John Kirby:] Well, I’m honored nonetheless. (Laughter.)
[Question:] Yeah. I got to get back to a conference call. One, on Incirlik, yesterday the Secretary said that they had told – the Turks had told Ambassador Bass that the power would be shut – turned back on within the next day or so.
[John Kirby:] Yeah. I don’t have an update on the power situation in Incirlik. I’d point you to DOD on that. I honestly don’t know if we’re still using auxiliary power or whether they’ve restored it. DOD would have a better sense of that than I would.
[Question:] Well, yeah, except that it would seem to have been going through the ambassador rather than the military channel, so that’s why – as far as you know, it’s still –
[John Kirby:] As far as I know, it hasn’t been resolved, but again, I’d point you to DOD.
[Question:] Okay. I had another one but now I forgot it, and I have to go back to the –
[John Kirby:] Okay. (Laughter.)
[John Kirby:] You can just email it to Brad. (Laughter.)
[Question:] Staying on Turkey, do you – do you –
[John Kirby:] Okay, I got it. Turkey – hang on. Yep, go ahead.
[Question:] You have been talking about 50,000 list. What do you say about this blanket order none of the academia can leave the country, the deans are being purged? Like, it’s a – where is the investigation? Is that democracy? What do you suggest to that?
[John Kirby:] I think, honestly, the exchanges that I’ve had here with Dave and Elise and Brad, I would point you back to what I said.
[Question:] I’m asking specifically about the academia, the – its universities.
[John Kirby:] And I said I’m not going to litigate every decision they’re making while they’re making it. What we’re going to do is stay in touch with Turkish authorities. We’ve made clear our concerns, again, on both sides of the ledger here. And those concerns, as the Secretary articulated yesterday, remain valid. We’re going to stay in touch and try to get as much clarity and as much context about what’s going on there as possible directly with our interlocutors in Turkey.
[Question:] And they have suspended the European Convention on Human Rights. Do you have anything on that? A democracy suspends human rights while an investigation starts?
[John Kirby:] Look, again, they had a near – a significant threat to the – to their democratic government.
[Question:] Is it still there?
[John Kirby:] They might believe that it still is. I don’t know. You’re asking me questions, quite frankly, that are better asked to Turkish authorities. We’re not involved in this investigation as they go forward. We understand they have a responsibility – an obligation, really – to get to the bottom of this and to hold those – those that were responsible to account. I’m not going to – and I’ll say it today and I’ll probably have to say it again tomorrow – I’m not going to litigate from the podium every decision that they’re making and the progress of their investigation into this attempted coup. Those are questions that should be put and, frankly, ought to be put to the Turkish Government to explain what they’re doing.
[Question:] Do you believe the Turkish Government is treating journalists – they will welcome a question?
[John Kirby:] Look, how many times from this podium have I in recent months talked about freedom of expression and press freedom in Turkey? I mean, we still have the same concerns over that as we did before.
[Question:] John, first, do you have an update about the material that they sent regarding this – his – the request, extradition request? They sent – the Turkish officials sent –
[John Kirby:] I don’t have an update for you. As I think my colleague at the White House said, that they have transmitted some documents, and we’re still analyzing those documents.
[Question:] So what’s the timeline for this? When –
[John Kirby:] You’d have to talk to the Justice Department. That’s not an issue for the State Department to adjudicate.
[Question:] Yeah, he said that State Department and Justice Department are working on this case together. So it’s up to Justice Department now?
[John Kirby:] It is – I mean, we’re working with the Justice Department, but issues of specific – I mean specific extradition requests are handled through the Justice Department. Obviously, we inform that process. I just don’t have an update for you today.
[Question:] Did you have an opinion on this process, about this – I mean, maybe it will be not, for example, seen as a request – official request, or it will be an official request.
[John Kirby:] We have offered, as the Justice Department has offered, to assist Turkish authorities as they work through this extradition process. We’ve even offered to host a team – a Turkish team here – or to send a team there, a joint team to help them work through the process. But as the Secretary said yesterday – and actually he said several times – if there is an extradition request, it’s got to be based on evidence, not just allegations.
[Question:] What was the response about this team?
[John Kirby:] I don’t know that there’s been a response.
[Question:] So it will be joint team, like Americans and Turks will be working together?
[John Kirby:] What we said – I said was we’ve offered to send a joint Justice and State Department team to Turkey or to host one of their – a team from Turkey here to help them work through the process.
[Question:] They didn’t respond yet?
[John Kirby:] I’m not aware of a response yet.
[Question:] And secondly – sorry. And secondly, is there any response regarding this assistance offer of Secretary Kerry in terms of this investigation going on on the schedule?
[John Kirby:] I’m not aware of any.
[Question:] And – yeah, it’s if there will be an evidence that the federal judge will be asking during this trial, I am wondering if there will be a responsibility of U.S. on this evidence that –
[John Kirby:] I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.
[Question:] Secretary Kerry was very clear that U.S. will be expecting a concrete evidence instead of the allegations. I’m wondering if the U.S. also will have some kind of responsibility during this evidence stage while this alleged coup perpetrator is living in Pennsylvania, because I don’t know how the Turks will present an evidence someone living in U.S.
[John Kirby:] I’m not really sure how to address your question. I mean, again, the Secretary said whatever – if there’s going to be an extradition request, it’s got to be based on evidence, not allegations.
[John Kirby:] And as I said, they’ve submitted some documents that we’re still analyzing. I’m not in a position to characterize it further than that. I don’t know what you mean by obligations of the U.S.
[Question:] I mean, I’m trying to understand what’s the meaning of evidence. Someone – for example, this guy, alleged – I mean, the coup perpetrator –
[John Kirby:] It’s simple. It would be information that specifically –
[Question:] – his history, some of his follower toppling –
[John Kirby:] Information – just like evidence in any other kind of case – information that specifically links the individual to the events that occurred – specifically links. That’s what we’re talking about.
[Question:] Yeah, but the – I’m talking about the top of this – I mean, this Fethullah Gulen living in Pennsylvania. According to the testimonies, for example, that I read, there are some officers who admitted that they are part of this movement. But I don’t know if in this extradition request, it’s about specifically this guy, and I don’t know how they will present an evidence – this – regarding this guy living in Pennsylvania.
[John Kirby:] I don’t know either. Tolga, I don’t know either. I don’t know how I could possibly know that either.
[Question:] But he’s living in U.S. I mean, do you have any responsibility in terms of the stability of an ally country? That’s my question – in terms of a guy living in Pennsylvania?
[John Kirby:] We don’t have a responsibility to help them gather the evidence and to help them – and to write the request for them, if that’s what you’re asking. As I said, we would obviously consider – because of the treaty that we have, we have an obligation to consider an extradition request. That consideration must be based on evidence.
[John Kirby:] On solid evidence –
[John Kirby:] – that in this case would link the individual to the actual coup. Now, they’ve submitted some documents. I think you can understand that I am not going to from this podium lay out for you everything that they’ve submitted or what and how the Justice Department is considering it as they analyze it. There’s a process here. It’s a very specific legal process. We have offered – and this is not required, okay, but we did offer – to assist them in the processing of the request to the degree – even to send a team there if they would welcome it. So we are working hard to show that we’re serious when we say we’re going to – we consider our treaty obligations seriously. And so, look, we’re just at the beginning of this and we’ll see where it goes, but I’m not going to air out every single development in the process every day that we go forward.
[Question:] Yeah. Just to clarify, there are two different offers, then – one for the investigation and then for this extradition request?
[John Kirby:] Yes, we did make a – that very night.
[Question:] But they didn’t respond to neither?
[John Kirby:] I’m not aware of any specific request by the Turkish Government for the United States to assist in their investigation of the coup or the processing of an extradition request, but yes, we made offers on both and we’re – as I said, Tolga, we’re in touch with Turkish authorities. We’re going to stay in touch with them. And when – and those offers were sincere and we’ll see where it goes.
[Question:] John, can you – just on the extradition, can you just help us out and – if there’s a determination made that it is a valid extradition request, are you going to share that with us or will you announce that it’s valid and that the next step is going forward?
[John Kirby:] That’s really more of a decision for the Justice Department to make, and honestly, Justin, I’m not an expert on process here. I don’t know what our obligations are with respect to disclosure on extradition. We typically, as you know, do not talk about specific extradition cases. It was a little unavoidable in this case because of the high public profile of the accusations that were made in the immediate hours after the coup and the fact that we were asked outright in the wake of the coup about the treaty itself. We don’t typically talk about that.
[Question:] But –
[Question:] Just procedurally, though, once the court has made its decision, isn’t there a final stage where the Secretary of State has to sign off on the extradition?
[John Kirby:] Secretary does have – he does have a role in signing off on final decisions.
[Question:] It’s the final one, yes? He makes the final decision?
[John Kirby:] Yes. That’s my understanding.
[Question:] But can I just get to –
[John Kirby:] But it is a – as I answered to Tolga, it is largely a Justice Department-owned process –
[Question:] Up until the final point.
[John Kirby:] Yeah, and – now, obviously, we stay – we help inform it and we are informed by it and the Secretary does have an obligation at the endgame. But again, guys, I just don’t think it’s valuable to try to get that far ahead of the process and where we are right now.
[Question:] Change of – change –
[Question:] Well, just one more on this. So yesterday, the Secretary – and the day before also in Europe, Secretary said that there – so far, that there’s no evidence that this guy was responsible, that it obviously – there’s nothing right now, but that they would review the dossier. But the Turks have already – everything we’ve been talking about for the last 20 minutes are under the pretext that this guy is responsible for the coup, he’s – he’s launched a crackdown and has detained 50,000 people and instituted a state of emergency to crack down on anybody related to this guy in an investigation that you say so far there’s no evidence of.
[John Kirby:] I don’t – I can go back and look.
[Question:] You don’t have a problem with that?
[John Kirby:] I didn’t say that. I said I’ll have to go back and look exactly what the Secretary said. I don’t believe he said there’s no evidence to date. I think what he said was that we will –
[Question:] He said –
[John Kirby:] – that we will consider any information that the Turks provide us with respect to this case and to this extradition process, but that it has to be based on solid evidence and not simply allegations, as it would in any other extradition case. And number two, we’ve acknowledged that we have received some documents from the Turkish Government. Those documents are being analyzed. I can’t rule out that there won’t be additional documentation forwarded by them. And so we’re just at the beginnings of this process.
[Question:] Okay, but it –
[John Kirby:] And it can be – on occasion, can be a lengthy process of determining.
[Question:] Okay. But if you’re just – just square this for me. If you’re at the beginning of the process, okay, and you say that, like, you’re not – you’re hesitant to criticize the Turks for what they’re doing because they still have to launch an investigation as to what’s going on and who’s responsible, yet they already sent you a dossier that says that this guy – proves that this guy was responsible for the coup. So those two things are not consistent.
[John Kirby:] My understanding is that they are –
[Question:] Do you see what I’m saying?
[John Kirby:] – investigating the coup.
[Question:] But they’re already determined that he’s – he’s responsible.
[John Kirby:] Well, they have made – they have certainly made public claims of their belief of his responsibility, as I understand it. And we spent, as you rightly pointed out, the first 20 minutes of this, if not longer, talking about the decisions that they’re making. So agree with them or not, it would appear that they are still in the act of investigating. But yes, they have made public claims about his responsibility, and what we said back to them is present the evidence and make it evidence that we can actually use in this process, and then we’ll see where we go.
[Question:] I’ve covered a few extraditions and my – I always thought that you don’t have to prove to the American sense of without a shadow of a doubt of somebody’s guilt to get an initial arrest, that once you – there’s a lower bar and you arrest the guy so that you prevent flight and then you allow time for the full investigation and a full extradition. So as long as Mr. Gulen hasn’t been arrested, are we to understand that you haven’t seen that low bar for evidence?
[John Kirby:] Again, I’m not an expert on law enforcement process. This is a better question for the Justice Department. I don’t believe anybody ever said – and the Secretary certainly never said – beyond the shadow of a doubt.
[John Kirby:] He said it has to be – the request has got to be based on evidence. They have submitted some documents; we’re analyzing them. I am not going to characterize the degree of evidence in those documents while we’re still in the process of looking at them.
[Question:] Right. But at this point you haven’t done even the first step in an extradition process here in the United States beyond looking at paper.
[John Kirby:] Well, again, I’m not an expert on process in terms of what is or what isn’t the first step. I can only tell you –
[Question:] Mr. Gulen is a – he’s a free man, he can leave the country, he can do whatever he wants, correct?
[John Kirby:] I’m not aware of any action taken against Mr. Gulen at this stage in the process.
[Question:] Okay. Thank you.
[Question:] Change of topic?
[John Kirby:] Yes.
[Question:] So Donald Trump in an interview has said in essence that NATO should pay for U.S. support, so that if the Balkans haven’t met their obligations to NATO, then the U.S. doesn’t need to respond. Is this kind of position something that undermines the commitment to common defense?
[John Kirby:] Well, look, I think you know, Barbara, I’m – as I’ve said many times, I’m simply not going to comment on rhetoric by either of the presidential candidates one way or the other. What I can tell you is that this Administration’s policy, as has been the policy of administrations before since 1949, is to hold firm to our commitments to the NATO alliance and to Article 5 specifically. Our commitments we view as ironclad, and I think that’s about all I’m going to say on it.
[Question:] But would –
[Question:] A related question to that?
[Question:] But would a position like this –
[John Kirby:] Hang on a second, guys.
[Question:] I mean, let’s say it’s not Donald Trump’s position, but would a position like this mean it would be moving away from those commitments?
[John Kirby:] Again, I’m not going to characterize comments made by presidential candidates. I think you know very well that Article 5 means an attack on one is an attack on all, and we take –
[Question:] Regardless of their commitments?
[John Kirby:] We take that responsibility seriously.
[Question:] But regardless of how much percentage of their budget –
[John Kirby:] When Article 5 is invoked, it’s an attack on one is an attack on all. When it’s invoked, the alliance comes to the assistance of the member attacked.
[Question:] But regardless of them meeting their two percent or whatever?
[John Kirby:] It is – it’s an absolute commitment, Elise. It’s an absolute commitment. And again, our policy, which has been the policy of every administration since 1949, is to hold dear and sacred, quite frankly, that obligation and that commitment to the alliance.
[Question:] So just for instance, if any one of the countries – one of the smaller countries who’s having budgetary problems or whatever –
[John Kirby:] I can appreciate the hypothetical effort to try to get me to comment on Mr. Trump’s statement. I’m just simply not going to do that.
[Question:] Why won’t you – I mean, your boss did several times – has commented on some of the things that you’re obviously getting calls of. You have 30 foreign ministers downstairs. I can’t believe that some of them aren’t saying to the Secretary, like, that this is concerning, that if there’s a new president in office, that they’re worried that the U.S. will not meet their commitments to NATO.
[John Kirby:] Look, a couple of thoughts here. You’re right; foreign ministers have expressed concerns about things that they’ve heard on the campaign trail. Throughout the campaign they’ve expressed their concerns, and the Secretary’s answer has been consistently the same: We’re not involved in politics here at the State Department. We’re not going to involve ourselves in election rhetoric. What we are going to involve ourselves in – pursuing the foreign policies of this Administration, and the foreign policies of this Administration are about being engaged and being active out in the international sphere and about honoring our alliance and security commitments around the world. And they are significant. And when you look around at what’s going on in the world, you can see that American leadership still matters. And the Secretary firmly believes that, and that’s what we’re focused on. And that’s our message to foreign leaders as we – as he continues to travel.
Now, I don’t know who the next commander-in-chief is going to be. The American people will decide that. And that individual will have to make decisions for him or herself about the world around them and about how the United States is going to act in that world. That is not for me to speculate or hypothesize on or talk about here from the podium. All I can do is reiterate our policies and our views about our security commitments around the world.
[Question:] Change subject to –
[Question:] Related to that, could I just ask about Japan and South Korea – the Trump comments about questioning the value of the troops there – whether there’s been fresh diplomatic contact with Seoul and Tokyo concerning that and whether the Secretary plans to reassure the Japanese and the South Koreans of our bilateral security commitments to them?
[John Kirby:] We constantly are in discussions with the Japanese and the South Koreans about our security commitments – our alliance commitments – to them and to their security. I don’t have any fresh conversations to read out for you, but obviously, our diplomats in both countries remain constantly engaged with them. And you asked something about – did you ask about THAAD? Was that part of your question?
[Question:] No, no, just the troops.
[John Kirby:] Oh, the troops – the troops’ presence. Again, look, I know of no discussions or decisions pending one way or the other. We obviously have a robust military presence in the Asia Pacific theater. That is a part of the rebalance to the Asia Pacific region, and again, this Administration’s view with respect to that region is that it remains vital. We are a Pacific power. Secretary of Defense Carter has spoken to our obligations there. Secretary Kerry has spoken to it, and I see no changes on the horizon on that front –
[Question:] John –
[John Kirby:] – because we believe, again, that the very real security challenges – and, frankly, economic opportunities – that are resident in that part of the world require a strong, robust U.S. presence – not just militarily, but diplomatically and economically as well.
Again, that’s one of the reasons why the Secretary will be heading off to the ASEAN forum soon; it’s why we are – continue to be strong advocates for TPP, and it’s why, again, our U.S. military is focusing more and more of their energy and efforts in the Asia Pacific region.
[Question:] Do you have a readout about the Libyan foreign minister meeting with Assistant Secretary Patterson?
[John Kirby:] Let me see. I can tell you that the Libyan foreign minister did meet with Assistant Secretary Patterson. And as I understand it, it was a good meeting about, again, reiterating our support for the Government of National Accord and for moving the process forward.
[Question:] Do you have anything – sorry, Samir. Were you going to follow up?
[Question:] Did they talk about the Libyan Government complain about the French troops in Libya?
[John Kirby:] Look, I don’t have much more of a detailed readout than that. Again, I’d just say that we remain committed to working with Prime Minister al-Sarraj, the GNA, and the UN’s Special Representative Martin Kobler, and continue to fully support the prime minister as he continues the crucial work of addressing a full range of Libya’s political, security, counterterrorism, economic, and humanitarian challenges. I don’t have a more specific readout than that.
[Question:] Do you have any concerns –
[Question:] Sir –
[Question:] – about the presence of French troops alongside General Haftar’s forces?
[John Kirby:] Look, again, I’m not privy to French deployment of troops. I think this is – that’s really an issue for the French authorities to speak to. We’ve made clear –
[Question:] But the policy is to support the Government of National Accord.
[John Kirby:] Again, I’d let the French characterize their military deployments.
[Question:] But you’re –
[John Kirby:] I don’t even characterize American military deployments. (Laughter.) This is really for the French to speak to. We do continue to support the GNA and, more importantly, the political process going forward in Libya.
[Question:] Do you have anything on an American fighting with the YPG killed in Syria?
[John Kirby:] I am aware of reports – hang on a second, I want to make sure I get this exactly right. If I had an iPad this would be a lot easier. (Laughter.)
[Question:] I’m sure they can pony up for one, given the amount of money –
[John Kirby:] Now, I’ve done it. I’ve completely messed up –
[John Kirby:] Huh? Let me just make sure I get this right, Elise.
[Question:] Apparently, the YPG put out a statement about it, so –
[John Kirby:] We’re aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was killed while fighting in Syria. I don’t have additional information to share.
[Question:] Because of privacy laws or because you don’t know?
[John Kirby:] Well, again, there’s privacy considerations that are refraining me from speaking further. But I would refer you again to the Department’s Syria travel warning where we urge – strongly discourage I should say – private U.S. citizens from traveling to Syria to take part in the conflict.
[Question:] Well, but you don’t need to speak about the specifics of the case and the person’s name and those specifics, but are you – I mean, you’re talking –
[John Kirby:] I’m aware of reports.
[Question:] But are you aware of a death?
[John Kirby:] I’m aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was killed.
[Question:] The Privacy Act does not govern the fact that you say – that you can say that there’s a death; it just says that you can’t talk about how he died or anything like that.
[John Kirby:] Well, I appreciate the tutorial on the Privacy Act. As I said –
[Question:] (Inaudible) dead people at all.
[Question:] Does it apply to dead people?
[John Kirby:] As I said, privacy considerations are – refrain me from providing more information right now.
[Question:] Do you have anything on an American citizen that was detained in Iran in May or – no, he traveled to Iran in May and was detained in July when trying to leave the country.
[John Kirby:] Seen reports of the possible detention in Iran of a person reported to be a U.S. citizen. We’re looking into this. I don’t have anything additional at this time.
[Question:] You’re looking –
[Question:] Sir –
[Question:] Again, this is about privacy considerations or you just really saw the reports and are looking into them?
[John Kirby:] Really saw the reports and looking into them.
[Question:] How –
[Question:] Sir, can I change the subject for one second.
[Question:] Whoa, whoa, whoa, since it’s an American –
[Question:] Sir –
[Question:] On Syria.
[Question:] – how are you looking into this? Have you asked the protecting power to –
[John Kirby:] I’m not –
[Question:] That’s a – you can’t say if you’ve asked your protecting power to contact the Iranian Government?
[John Kirby:] I’ve seen reports of a possible detention in Iran of a person reported to be a U.S. citizen. We’re looking into it, Brad. And I just don’t have additional detail at this time.
[Question:] Sir –
[Question:] Questions on the – on coalition strikes in Syria, please. The U.S. strike that reportedly killed around 20 civilians in the ISIL-held city of Manbij in Syria – was it a mistake – on Monday?
[John Kirby:] That’s another great accusatory question you’ve asked here. I think Secretary Carter has already addressed this issue. Obviously, we take all reports and allegations of civilian casualties very seriously. There isn’t another military on the planet who takes the due care that the United States military does when it – when acting with precision. And when things go wrong, we investigate it, and we’re transparent about it. And as – again, I’d point you back to what the Secretary of Defense said himself, that their taking this seriously, they’ll look into it.
[Question:] What exactly is being investigated, the number of deaths or whether that –
[John Kirby:] You’d have to talk to DOD. But I suspect that what he meant was that they’re looking into the veracity of reports about civilian causalities. And just to be clear, one is one too many. And we take each and every single instance seriously, so it’s not about the number. And don’t for a minute think that we take any particular number more seriously than any other. We don’t want to cause any collateral damage; we don’t want to cause any harm to civilians. And when we do, unlike so many other militaries in the world, we fully investigate it and we report what we find. And then we take steps to act on the lessons learned so it doesn’t happen again.
[Question:] In January, when the U.S. bombed a building in Mosul with huge amounts of ISIL’s cash, a U.S. official told CNN that the commanders had been willing to consider up to 50 civilian causalities from the airstrike due to the importance of the target. Is that the approach? Is the U.S. willing to tolerate certain numbers of civilian causalities for high-value ISIL targets?
[John Kirby:] Look, I’ve seen the press report here. I – as a veteran myself of 30 years, I can tell you that one is one too many and the United States military takes – goes out of its way, to great pains, to avoid civilian causalities of any kind.
[Question:] Are you saying U.S. officials could not possibly say such a thing to CNN? So is that –
[John Kirby:] You’re asking me to comment on anonymous sources, and I’m just simply not going to do that. I’ve seen the same press report as you, which is, by the way, pretty old. I can tell you, from my own personal experience in uniform, that no other military works as hard as ours – none, no other military in the world – to prevent civilian causalities.
[Question:] But –
[John Kirby:] And when they happen – again, I’ll say it again, because apparently it didn’t sink in the first time – when it happens, we investigate it fully and completely. And then we’re transparent about it. And then we take the lessons learned and we try to prevent it from happening again. There isn’t anybody else who does that.
[Question:] The policy is not zero tolerance for civilian causalities is it, at this point?
[John Kirby:] I’ve already explained to you our policy and our approach to civilian causalities. I don’t think I need to explain it any further.
[Question:] Just the day after the Manbij strike-
[Question:] Sir, in Brazil today –
[John Kirby:] Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
[Question:] Just the day after the Manbij strike –
[Question:] Sir, in Brazil today –
[Question:] Just the day after the Manbij strike –
[John Kirby:] Yes, sir. Go ahead, please.
[Question:] – 10 people have been arrested, accused of possible involvement with a terrorist plot during the Olympics.
[John Kirby:] Yeah.
[Question:] Will the – will – is the American Government helping in the investigations and will the State Department change recommendations for those willing to travel to Rio?
[John Kirby:] So we’ve seen the reports of these arrests. Let me sort of approach this a little bit differently than your question. I’m not aware of any U.S. involvement in this investigation on these arrests, and I would point you to law enforcement authorities for further information about that. I’m not aware that we’re assisting in the investigation at all.
Obviously we are always concerned about the safety and security of American citizens abroad. We’re certainly concerned about that with the upcoming Olympics. We have confidence in Brazilian authorities to take the steps – and we know that they are taking steps – to make these Olympics safe and secure. They are working very, very hard. I think almost 90,000 security forces now that they have in place to make sure that people can enjoy the games in a safe environment.
So we have very – a very high level of confidence in their ability to deal with this and to see the Olympic Games process safely and securely for everyone. And we applaud their work on this arrest and we know that they – and they’ve made clear themselves that they’ll fully investigate this. Again, we’ll await to see the results of their investigation and their work.
[Question:] Are you changing your recommendations for Americans planning on going to –
[John Kirby:] Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t get – no. We – there’s no – there’s been no changes to any sort of travel recommendations with respect to the Olympics. We believe that Brazilian authorities are on top of this. I think today’s arrest is an indicator of the degree to which they take this very seriously. And again, we’re confident that they’re going to be able to hold and to secure a safe environment for the Olympic Games.
Obviously, we’re – like every other country involved, we’re going to stay vigilant here. It would be irresponsible not to continue to look at things very, very carefully, given that it is such a widely attended, public series of events. And so we’re going to stay lashed up and close connected to authorities in Brazil going forward. Okay?
[Question:] Thank you. My question is about Malaysia. Yesterday, a forfeiture action was initiated to try and recover assets looted from its sovereign wealth fund. And my question is what are the present ramifications of American foreign policy towards Malaysia because of this? And very specifically what would be your posture towards any proceedings, legal proceedings, related to the prime minister, related to the head of government?
[John Kirby:] All right. So let me do it this way. I’ll tell you that we’re in contact with the Justice Department about this announcement of a seizure of U.S.-based assets of Malaysian nationals. This is primarily a case for the Justice Department to speak to, not for the State Department to speak to. What I can tell you is that Secretary Kerry and senior State Department officials have consistently raised our concerns about fairness, transparency, and the rule of law in many countries as essential factors in successful anticorruption efforts worldwide. But for specifics about this, I really need to point you to my colleagues over at the Justice Department.
[Question:] John, thank you.
[John Kirby:] Janne.
[Question:] Thank you very much. On THAAD, the South Korean citizens opposed of THAAD placed in South Korea – this is currently hot issue about THAAD system and electromagnetic effect to the human body. Did United States give any notice to South Korea about the risk of THAAD system – it affected human body?
[John Kirby:] Did they give any – I’m sorry –
[Question:] Did they give –
[John Kirby:] To the – to Seoul?
[John Kirby:] About possible site locations for the system?
[Question:] No, no, not site of locations. It is like electromagnetic kind of –
[Question:] Oh, the electromagnetic dangers.
[Question:] Yeah, affected human body, so –
[John Kirby:] Oh, you mean the parameters of the system itself. Yes, of course. I mean, our two militaries have been discussing this now for quite some time in terms of the capabilities of the system all the way through it. Again, I’d point you to DOD for more detail on that. I’m not an expert on the system.
[Question:] No, I think our colleague’s asking about possible public health effects of the electromagnetic –
[John Kirby:] We’ve been in touch with – I know we’ve been in touch with ROK officials about the system itself and the capabilities of it. I don’t know – if you’re asking me about electromagnetic issues and public health – I don’t know. I’ll have to see if we can find out for you.
[Question:] You have military background.
[John Kirby:] But I think it’s really more of a question for DOD.
[Question:] You know more than them.
[John Kirby:] Me?
[Question:] You have military background.
[John Kirby:] No, I don’t.
[John Kirby:] I – no, I don’t have a background in this.
[Question:] There’s actually in this room magnetic –
[Question:] – electromagnetic –
[John Kirby:] I don’t have a background in the system with any great specificity. But look, I mean, we obviously take the – and let’s not forget, there’s – the reason we’re having discussions about the system is because of the threat that the DPRK continues to pose to the people of South Korea. And as I said earlier in a different answer to a different question, we take our security commitments in the region very, very seriously, and we have been in constant communication and consultation with South Korean officials, both on the diplomatic side and the military side, about the system and its capabilities. Whether we’ve addressed this specific issue, again, I’d – I don’t know. I’ll try to find out for you, but it’s also – I would encourage you to also ask our colleagues at the Defense Department.
I’ve got time for just one more. Yes, sir.
[Question:] Yeah, so back to Turkey for a second. The – are there any concerns this – that the reaction to the coup and the crackdown that involves so many members of the military will impact the – Turkey’s role in the anti-ISIL coalition?
[John Kirby:] I think the Secretary addressed a little bit of this yesterday. I mean, the Turkish Government itself has assured us that there won’t be any negative developments based on their ongoing investigation to the – to their contributions to the counter-Daesh coalition. We haven’t seen any degradation in Turkish support thus far. Obviously, we certainly want to continue to see Turkey contribute to the efforts as they have in the past. And as I said many times well before the coup, we’re always looking for ways to try to improve that cooperation, and our efforts to do so are going to remain. And I – again, I’d just reiterate that the Government of Turkey was represented here – not at the ministerial level, of course, but they were represented here today – in today’s discussions.
[Question:] Are you giving them any messages in terms of – it seems like analysts are saying that the government and the intelligence services are more focused on sort of keeping an eye on their own military now than on finding threats from ISIL or –
[John Kirby:] Again, I’m not going to characterize the degree to which they are – every step of the way as they investigate this.
[Question:] Right, but I’m asking – what I’m asking –
[John Kirby:] But it was – but hang on a second – it was –
[Question:] – is whether you’re sending – whether the U.S. is giving – sending them messages regarding – asking them to do anything specific with regards to –
[John Kirby:] I’m not going to talk about the –
[Question:] – to the ISIL situation.
[John Kirby:] I’m not going to talk about diplomatic conversations. Again, they’ve assured us – a couple of points here. They’ve assured us that there’s not going to be any negative developments about what they’re doing to the counter coalition effort. And we’re going to – the counter-ISIL coalition effort, sorry – and we’re going to stay in close touch with them going forward. We haven’t seen any degradation to this point.
But let’s remember that the attempted coup was led by and with elements of their own military. So that they are taking a hard look at their military and talking to leaders in their military should not come as a surprise to anybody. But again, they’ve made clear that they’re going to stay committed to the effort, and that’s certainly our hope and expectation going forward.
John Kirby Daily Press Briefing Reporter Plays Pokemon Go. Did you get one? Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.