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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Ties between U.S. and Turkey worsen, visa services suspended

Turkish government blames for last summer’s failed coup

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ISTANBUL, Turkey - After Turkish authorities arrested a U.S. Consulate employee of Turkish nationality for alleged links to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish government blames for last summer’s failed coup - ties between the two nations have taken a turn for the worse. 

The U.S. said on Sunday that it was suspending non-immigrant visa services at its diplomatic facilities in Turkey following the arrest, prompting Turkey to halt visa services in the U.S.

In a statement on Twitter from the U.S. Mission to Turkey, the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Ankara tweeted that recent events have forced it to “reassess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of U.S. Mission facilities and personnel.”

In its statement, the U.S. Embassy described being “deeply disturbed” by the arrest.

Late on Sunday, the Turkish Embassy in Washington responded with a similar statement on Twitter, saying it would “reassess the commitment of the Government of the United States to the security of Turkish mission facilities and personnel.” 

It said the measures would apply to e-Visas, visas issued at borders and visas in passports.

Metin Topuz is facing accusations of espionage and “attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and constitution.” 

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said in a report that Topuz allegedly communicated with former police chiefs in a 2013 corruption probe, 121 people involved in the attempted coup and hundreds of people using an encrypted mobile messaging application. 

Earlier this year, in March, Hamza Ulucay, a translator of the U.S. Consulate in the southern province of Adana, was arrested for alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

In its statement, the U.S. said the suspension of non-immigrant visa services was “effective immediately” and was aimed at minimizing visitor numbers to the U.S. Embassy and Consulate for now. 

According to officials, the suspended services will affect business, tourism, medical treatment, student, exchange visitor, crew member, media and journalist, treaty trader, diplomatic and official visas.

Ties between Turkey and the U.S. suffered recently, over disagreements on Syrian Kurdish militants.

The U.S. backs Syrian Kurdish militants in the war against the Islamic State group. 

Turkey meanwhile considers them a terror group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, that has waged an insurgency within Turkey’s borders for more than 30 years.

So far, over 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 have been fired from government jobs as part of a state of emergency declared after the failed coup in Turkey.

 

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