Turkey court: U.S. consulate worker will stay in jail pending trial

A U.S. consulate employee being held in a Turkish jail on spying charges will remain there until at least the end of his trial, an Istanbul court ordered Wednesday.

A Turkish man holds a national flag in Istanbul, Turkey, to support the government following an attempted coup on July 16, 2016, File Photo by Hanna Noori

Metin Topuz, a Turkish citizen and liaison officer and translator at the U.S. consulate, has been detained since 2017.

Topuz told a judge in Istanbul’s 14th Criminal Court that there is no credible evidence against him. He is accused of aiding Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim preacher living in the United States who Turkish authorities say planned the attempted military coup in Ankara three years ago.

“The charges are based on unrealistic allegations and contradictory testimonies of so-called witnesses,” Topuz said. “The accusations made against me are just claims. There is no evidence that could even justify suspicion that I committed these crimes.”

Prosecutors said they want to hear from witness Feyyaz Ozturk, who told police he met Topuz several times. They are trying to locate him in Italy, where defense attorneys said he fled.

The case has added to growing tensions between Turkey and the United States, as Ankara wants Gulen extradited to face trial for planning the failed 2016 coup. The nations are also at odds over Turkey’s buying a Russian-made missile defense system and the conflict in Syria.

The Turkish government has arrested tens of thousands of its citizens over the last three years, for suspected complicity in the coup attempt and ties to Gulen, and more than 100,000 have been removed from their public sector jobs.

ByEd Adamczyk