Middle East/North Africa

US Consulate worker to remain jailed in Turkey, lawyer says

Aaron Schwartz

A U.S. Consulate employee will remain in a Turkish jail during his trial on espionage charges, an Istanbul court ruled on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Metin Topuz’s attorney Halit Akalp said he will remain in detention until his next hearing in March, according to the news service.

{mosads}Topuz worked as a Turkish translator and consultant for the Drug Enforcement Administration at the consulate in Istanbul, and has been in custody for over two years, with his next hearing set for March 10.

Turkish officials have charged Topuz with espionage and accused him of ties to Pennsylvania-based dissident cleric Fethullah Gülen, a frequent target of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan also accused Gülen of masterminding a failed coup in 2016. Topuz has denied all charges.

“The accusations made against me are just claims … There is no evidence that could even justify suspicion that I committed these crimes,” Topuz said during Wednesday’s hearing, according to Reuters.

Topuz’s detention is another factor exacerbating U.S.-Turkish relations, amid pushback over Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria after U.S. forces left the region.

The House of Representatives also recently passed a long-stalled resolution condemning the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government after the measure was stuck in limbo for years for fear of offending the NATO ally.

Tags NATO Turkey

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