Turkey contradicts Washington on guarantees for local employees of US mission

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Turkey on Monday denied a US statement that Ankara has given high-level assurances that local staff of American missions in Turkey will not be detained or arrested.

“Turkey is a state of law and our government cannot provide any assurances regarding files that are subject of ongoing legal processes,” the Turkish Embassy in Washington said in a statement on Twitter.

The US Embassy on Monday declared the resumption of limited visa services in Turkey due to guarantees given by Turkey and the improved security posture.

On Oct. 8, the US and Turkey halted non-immigrant visa services in their respective missions after Metin Topuz, a staff member at the US Consulate General in İstanbul, was arrested on Oct. 4 on espionage charges and alleged links to some leading members of the faith-based Gülen movement.

“We have received initial high-level assurances from the Government of Turkey that there are no additional local employees of our Mission in Turkey under investigation. We have also received initial assurances from the Government of Turkey that our local staff will not be detained or arrested for performing their official duties and that Turkish authorities will inform the U.S. government in advance if the Government of Turkey intends to detain or arrest a member of our local staff in the future,” the US Embassy in Ankara said in a statement early on Monday.

“Based on these preliminary assurances, we believe the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the resumption of limited visa services in Turkey. We continue to have serious concerns about the existing cases against arrested local employees of our Mission in Turkey. We are also concerned about the cases against U.S. citizens who have been arrested under the state of emergency. U.S. officials will continue to engage with their Turkish counterparts to seek a satisfactory resolution of these cases,” the embassy added.

Responding to the US statement late on Monday, the Turkish Embassy in Washington said:
“No foreign mission personnel has been subjected to legal investigation for performing their official duties in Turkey. The personnel in question employed by the U.S. has been the subject of a judicial process not because of his official duties but due to very serious charges against him.”

The Turkish Embassy also accused the US Embassy in Ankara of not reflecting truth about the security situation: “The reference to the security situation in the Embassy’s statement does not the reflect truth, and is considered odd since Turkey has taken all the necessary measures for the security of all diplomatic and consular missions in Turkey, including those of the US, and as the US side stated at every occasion that there is no need for additional measures.”

Minutes after the United States resumed processing visas at its missions in Turkey on a “limited” basis, Turkey announced the resumption of visa issuance at its missions in the US on Monday in what could signal a tentative improvement in the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

“Turkey is resuming processing visa applications of US citizens at its diplomatic and consular missions in the US on a ‘limited basis’,” the Turkish Embassy in Washington announced on Twitter in its first statement on Monday.

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