US, Turkey mutually suspend all non-immigrant visa services

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Amid tension between Turkey and the US over the arrest of a Turkish national working at the İstanbul Consulate General last week, the US Embassy in Ankara on Sunday announced that it had suspended all non-immigrant visa services at its diplomatic facilities in Turkey.

Hours after the release of the statement, the Turkish Embassy in Washington announced that it had suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all Turkish diplomatic missions in the US.

Istanbul Consulate General staff member Metin Topuz was arrested late on Oct. 4 on espionage charges and alleged links to some leading members of the Gülen movement.

Speaking to a group of journalists in İstanbul on Friday, John Bass, the departing US ambassador to Turkey, said some in the Turkish government are motivated by “vengeance rather than justice,” voicing concern at coverage in pro-government media outlets of the arrest of Topuz.

Two days after Bass’s remarks, the US Embassy issued a statement on its Twitter account:

“Recent events have forced the United States Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of US Mission facilities and personnel. In order to minimize the number of visitors to our Embassy and Consulates while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey.”

The Turkish Embassy in Washington retaliated by copying and reversing the US statement.

“This measure will apply to visas in passports as well as e-Visas and visas acquired at the border,” the Turkish Embassy added in its statement.

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