Arrested US Consulate employee meets with lawyers

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US Consulate General in Istanbul staff member Metin Topuz, whose arrest has sparked a crisis between Turkey and the US, met with his lawyers on Friday at a prison on the outskirts of Istanbul, Hürriyet reported.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that Topuz had been given three opportunities to speak with his lawyers since his detention on Sept. 30. It was stated that Topuz met with his lawyers Selman Alibaş and Halit Akalp on Sept. 30, Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 and that these meetings were included in the official report.

US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass had complained in a video message on Monday that Topuz hadn’t been given sufficient access to his lawyers.

Alibaş and Akalp met with their client at Istanbul’s Silivri Prison for about two hours on Friday. After their meeting Akalp told reporters: “Any kind of restriction on this issue is out of the question. The meeting conditions are already obvious under existing legislation, and we held our meeting. We had also met with our client during his period of detention within the framework of the law. We do not have any problem on this matter, and we held a very convenient meeting,”

Metin Topuz, a member of the US Consulate General in İstanbul staff, had been arrested on Oct. 4 on espionage charges and alleged links to some leading members of the faith-based Gülen movement. Local media on Monday revealed that Turkish authorities had issued a detention warrant for another US Consulate employee over alleged Gülen movement links on Sunday morning. Police were unable to detain him because he was sheltering in the consulate building.

Speaking to a group of journalists in İstanbul last Friday, departing US Ambassador Bass 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.

The US Embassy in Ankara on Sunday announced that it had suspended all non-immigrant visa services at its diplomatic missions in Turkey.

In a statement released on the US Embassy & Consulates in Turkey website on Monday the ambassador said: “Last week, for the second time this year, a Turkish staff member of our diplomatic mission was arrested by Turkish authorities. Despite our best efforts to learn the reasons for this arrest, we have been unable to determine why it occurred or what, if any, evidence exists against the employee. The employee works in an office devoted to strengthening law enforcement cooperation with Turkish authorities and ensuring the security of Americans and Turkish citizens. Furthermore, our colleague has not been allowed sufficient access to his attorney.”

The Gülen movement is a global civil society movement inspired by the views of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who the Justice and Development Party (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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