Turkish officials issued an arrest warrant for a second member of the U.S. diplomatic mission in the country, days after the senior liaison officer at the American consulate in Istanbul was taken into custody.
Ankara has yet to confirm the arrest warrant, but local reports say the country’s security services were seeking to question the unnamed consulate employee, who is refusing to leave U.S. consulate grounds, regarding their alleged ties to last July’s failed coup attempt.
The individual’s wife and child are already in government custody and reportedly being interrogated, after their arrest in the northern Turkish city of Amasya.
The warrant comes less than a week after Turkish security services detained Metin Topuz, a Turkish national who was working as liaison officer of the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul. Ankara ordered his arrest as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on supporters of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the Erdogan regime believes was behind last year’s attempted military coup in the country.
The identity of the U.S. consulate employee being sought by Turkish authorities, who is also accused of being a Gulen ally, was uncovered during the ongoing investigation into military and government officials linked to the coup attempt.
Mr. Topuz is reportedly being held on charges of “attempting to disrupt constitutional order, espionage and attempting to eradicate the Turkish government,” conservative Turkish news outlet Yeni Şafak reported Monday.
Aside from ties to Gulen sympathizers, Ankara claims Mr. Topuz was also in contact with the al Qaeda cell responsible for a a series of suicide bombings at the British consulate, a branch of the HSBC bank and two synagogues. Several German citizens have also been detained by Turkish officials, the BBC reports.
The arrests are only the latest signs of increasingly frayed relations between Turkey, a NATO member, and the U.S. On Sunday, the State Department suspended issuing any U.S. visas to Turkish citizens. The move is tied to ongoing efforts by Washington to “reassess the commitment of government of Turkey to the security of US mission and personnel,” said a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.
Turkish diplomats in the U.S. quickly followed suit, saying in a statement that all visa services in America are suspended “effective immediately.”
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