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People wait in front of the visa application office entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara
Image: Reuters/U. Bektas

Turkey 'questions' family of US staffer

October 9, 2017

Turkish media say authorities are questioning the wife and son of a US consulate worker being sought in Istanbul by police. Ankara has also reportedly summoned a US diplomat in a row over visa services.


Turkey has issued an arrest warrant for another US consulate worker, Turkish broadcaster NTV reported Monday.

The family members of the worker were being questioned although Turkey's justice ministry said it had no information about a new warrant being issued. NTV said the Turkish national consulate worker was still being sought by security officials.

Turkish media reported that the consulate worker was staying at the Istanbul consulate, fearful of arrest if he left. 

The reports follow the arrest in Istanbul last week of a local US consulate employee, a Turkish national named as Metin Topuz. The detention triggered a diplomatic row as US and Turkish missions each cut back visa services.

Read more: US halts visa services to Turkey

Turkish foreign ministry sources said the US mission's second-in-charge, Philip Kosnett, had been summoned to the ministry.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey
The row comes soon after Donald Trump declared ties between the US and Turkey as 'as close as ever'Image: Reuters/K. Lemarque

Turkey demands US rethink

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul told A Haber television on Monday that he hoped Washington would review its decision to suspend visa services to Turkish citizens wanting to visit and study in the United States.

Gul said the case against Topuz was one for the Turkish judiciary to pursue.

"Trying a Turkish citizen for a crime committed in Turkey is our right. I hope the US will revise its decision in this light," Gul said.

Read more: Turkey purges continue a year after failed coup

Erdogan: US decision to suspend visa services 'upsetting'

Turkey's Anadolu news agency said Topuz was accused of espionage and links to the US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen. Ankara accused Gulen of being behind a coup attempt in 2016.

The US embassy said it was "deeply disturbed" by his arrest.

Ambassador John Bass said his embassy had been unable to learn the reasons for last week's arrest or what evidence existed against the US consulate employee.

Business confidence shaken

The diplomatic spat spooked investors. The Turkish lira dropped 3.4 percent and Turkey's main BIST 100 stock index fell, closing the day down 2.73 percent. Especially hard hit were airline shares. Turkish Airlines fell 9 percent.

Turkey's TUSIAD business association warned that the dispute would harm bilateral economic, social and cultural ties, and called for disagreements to be settled calmly.

Sinan Ulgen, an analyst and former Turkish diplomat, said a crisis of confidence had emerged that was not solely a reaction to the detentions of US consulate employees.

"This harshness is a result of a build-up," Ulgen told Reuters.

ipj/bk (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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