İstanbul prosecutor indicts Turkish US consulate worker accused of Gülen links

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Turkish prosecutors have prepared a charge sheet against a local employee of the US consulate who was arrested over alleged links to the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, Reuters reported, citing the Demirören news agency (DHA).

Gülen is accused by Ankara of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016, in which he denies all involvement.

Consulate worker Metin Topuz’s arrest in October 2017 added to existing tensions between the United States and Turkey and led to a months-long suspension of bilateral visa services.

Relations between the two NATO allies have been strained over US support for Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, Turkey’s plan to buy a Russian missile defense system and the US jailing of an executive at a Turkish state bank in an Iran sanctions-busting case.

Topuz is in jail along with two other local consulate employees, as is a Turkish-US national and former NASA scientist who faces terrorism charges. Washington wants all of them to be released.

DHA quoted from Topuz’s 78-page indictment, which stated that he had very close contact with police officers suspected of playing a role in the coup attempt.

Topuz in his testimony stressed that these contacts were made due to his mission in the US consulate.

Under Turkish law, a judge will now decide if Topuz’s case should proceed to trial.

Ankara has repeatedly demanded that the United States extradite Gülen to Turkey. The cleric has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999.

Turkey has detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants over suspected links to the coup attempt, according to the UN human rights office.

There was some easing of US-Turkish tensions late last year when an Ankara court freed a US pastor who had been detained for two years on accusations of links to Kurdish militants and supporters of Gülen.

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