Turkey: US misinforming public by claiming assurances given by Ankara

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Shortly after the US Embassy in Turkey announced a resumption of full visa services in the country based on assurances provided by the Turkish government, the Turkish Embassy in Washington tweeted that the United States is misinforming the US and Turkish public by saying they have received such assurances from Ankara, CNN Türk reported in breaking news.

The embassy in Washington clamed that no assurances were given for cases that are in the midst of legal proceedings in Turkey and that it had lifted limitations on the issuance of visas for US citizens based on the rule of reciprocity.

In a statement published in its official website on Thursday, the Turkish Embassy to the United States said:

“We welcome the decision of the United States to resume as of today regular visa procedures, by lifting the restrictions applied to our citizens. In accordance with the principle of reciprocity, restrictions on visa services applied to American citizens have been lifted simultaneously.

“Regarding the assurances expressed in the U.S. statement, we would like to emphasize that Turkey is a state of law, and that our government has not provided any assurances concerning the ongoing judicial processes. No foreign mission personnel has been subjected to legal investigation in performing their official duties in our country. Despite our previous clarifications to the contrary, it is inappropriate to misinform Turkish and American public that such assurances were provided.

“On the other hand, Turkey still has very serious concerns about the ongoing cases against Turkish citizens in the United States.

“Turkish officials will continue to engage with their American counterparts to seek a satisfactory resolution of these cases.”

The US Embassy had tweeted on Thursday: “Since October, the Government of Turkey has adhered to the high-level assurances it provided to the United States that there are no additional local employees of our Mission in Turkey under investigation, that local staff of our Embassy and consulates will not be detained or arrested for performing their official duties –including communicating with Turkish officials also working in an official capacity – and that Turkish authorities will inform the U.S. government in advance if the Government of Turkey intends to detain or arrest any member of our local staff in the future.

“Based on adherence to these assurances, the Department of State is confident that the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the full resumption of visa services in Turkey. We continue to have serious concerns about the existing allegations against arrested local employees of our Mission in Turkey. We are also concerned about 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.”

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.

In March 2017 Hamza Uluçay, a translator at the US Consulate in the southern province of Adana, was arrested on charges of membership in a “terrorist” organization, and a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) worker was recently detained in Istanbul. Both are accused of links to last year’s coup attempt.

The US Embassy has called the accusations baseless.

The US resumed processing visas on a “limited” basis on Nov. 6 based on “high-level assurances from the Government of Turkey that there are no additional local employees of our Mission in Turkey under investigation … [and] 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.”

However, in mid-December, the embassy announced that appointments to secure non-immigrant visas were not available until early 2019 due to a backlog of applications.

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