US government ‘deeply disturbed’ by arrest of staff member in İstanbul

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The building of the Consulate General of United States in the Istinye district of İstanbul, Turkey (Sebnem Coskun / Anadolu Agency)

The US Embassy in Turkey issued an official statement on Twitter on Thursday concerning the arrest of a locally employed staff member in İstanbul the day before.

“The United States Government is deeply disturbed by the arrest of a locally-employed staff member of the US Consulate General Istanbul on October 4, and by leaks from Turkish government sources seemingly aimed at trying the employee in the media rather than a court of law. We believe these allegations to be wholly without merit,” the US Embassy said on its official Twitter account, adding “Baseless, anonymous allegations against our employees undermine and devalue this longstanding partnership.”

A staff member known only by the initials M.T. allegedly had regular phone calls before corruption investigations went public Dec. 17-25, 2013 with then-İstanbul Deputy Public Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz and the chiefs of police in charge of the probes.

M.T. was detained on Sunday under the order of the anti-terror and organized crime unit of the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office and was arrested by a court on Thursday, the Hürriyet daily reported.

As part of the so-called FETÖ organization (a derogatory term coined by the Justice and Development Party [AKP] government to refer to members of the faith-based Gülen movement), the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office anti-terror and organized crime unit had filed a case against chiefs of police Yakup Saygılı, Nazmi Ardıç, Mahir Çakallı and Mehmet Akif Üner and fugitive former prosecutor Zekeriya Öz.

The Gülen movement is a global civil society movement inspired by the views of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who the AKP government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuse of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 despite Gülen’s repeated denials of any involvement.

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