US ‘disappointed’ after Turkish court refuses to free US consulate employee

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An old photo of Topuz from Milliyet archive.

The United States expressed disappointment on Thursday at the refusal of a Turkish court to free a US consulate employee accused of espionage in a case that has damaged relations between Washington and Ankara, Reuters reported.

At a hearing on Wednesday, Metin Topuz, a Turkish translator for the Drug Enforcement Administration at the US Consulate General in İstanbul, was ordered held at least until his next court appearance, which was set for June 28.

“Disappointed by the result of yesterday’s hearing in #Turkey,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in tweet.

“We have seen no credible evidence of any wrongdoing, yet @ABDIstanbul employee Metin Topuz remains in prison. We again urge Turkish authorities to resolve this matter swiftly, transparently, and fairly.”

Topuz, who has been held since his arrest in 2017, is one of three US consulate employees who have been charged in criminal cases that have been major irritants in the relationship between the NATO allies.

He is on trial on charges of espionage and links to the network of cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is based in the United States and accused by Turkey of plotting a failed 2016 coup.

Washington and Ankara are at odds over a range of issues including Syria policy, the US refusal to extradite Gülen and Turkey’s plans to buy a Russian missile system.

The indictment accuses Topuz of being in frequent contact with officers who led a 2013 corruption investigation in Turkey, which the government has described as a “judicial coup attempt” by Gülen’s network.

Topuz denies the charges, saying it was not his decision who he came into contact with through his work.

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