Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Ambassador Says US Still Seeking Explanation For Turkey Staff Arrests

Ambassador Says US Still Seeking Explanation For Turkey Staff Arrests

Relations between United States and Turkey remained tense amid suspension of visa services between the two countries.

The US Embassy in Ankara made the first move by releasing a statement saying that "recent events have forced the US government to reassess the commitment of the Turkish Government to the security of US diplomatic facilities and personnel". This suspension includes the issuance of physical sticker visas issued at border posts, as well as the online "e-visa".

This week, Turkish authorities arrested a U.S. Consulate employee of Turkish nationality for alleged links to the network of U.S. -based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish government blames for last summer's failed coup.

The spokesperson also confirmed that a third employee of the U.S. embassy was apprehended by Turkish authorities, however, the United States is not aware if the individual was arrested or just questioned.

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Metin Topuz is accused of espionage and "attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and constitution".

In response, the United States stopped issuing non-immigrant visas from its missions in Turkey, prompting Turkish missions in the United States to hit back by adopting the same measures against the US.

"In order to minimise the number of the visitors to our diplomatic and consular missions in the U.S. while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all visa services regarding the United States citizens at our diplomatic and consular missions in the US".

A court has ruled that Topuz will remain in custody while his alleged links to Gulen are investigated.

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The dispute has added new strains to already fragile relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members after months of tension linked to the conflict in Syria, last year's failed military coup in Turkey, and USA court cases against Turkish officials.

Relations between Turkey and the US have been tense over disagreements on Syrian Kurdish militants, which the USA backs in the war against the Islamic State group.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Mr Gulen of instigating the unrest - a charge the cleric denies.

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