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Turkish court rules to keep US Consulate employee in pre-trial detention

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A Turkish court ruled on Friday to keep an employee of the US Consulate General in Istanbul in custody as his trial on espionage charges continues, in a case that has damaged relations between Washington and Ankara, Reuters reported

Metin Topuz, a Turkish translator for the Drug Enforcement Administration at the consulate in Istanbul, has been in custody for 21 months. The next hearing in the case was set for Sept. 18.

Trials of US citizens and local consulate employees in Turkey have been a source of discord between the NATO allies, whose ties have also worsened over Ankara’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system and policy differences in Syria.

Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Donald Trump are expected to meet at the G20 summit in Osaka on Saturday to discuss Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system, which is expected to be delivered in July.

Topuz is charged with 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 coup in 2016. Washington says Topuz is innocent.

He is accused of being in frequent contact with officers who led a 2013 corruption probe 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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