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Arrested US consulate Turkish staffer meets lawyers

The American embassy halted issuing non-immigrant visas after the arrest [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 October, 2017

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Metin Topuz, a Turkish citizen, is accused of links to the group led by Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara suspects of ordering last year's failed coup.

A US consulate employee held by Turkish authorities met his lawyers on Friday for the first time since his arrest sparked a major diplomatic row between Ankara and Washington.

Metin Topuz's lawyer Halit Akalp told reporters waiting outside Silivri prison on the outskirts of Istanbul that he had met his client.

"We had the necessary meeting my client. There are no restrictions regarding this issue," Akalp said in televised comments.

The meeting lasted for two hours with Akalp and another lawyer, Selman Alibas, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.

Topuz, a Turkish citizen, is accused of links to the group led by Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara suspects of ordering last year's failed coup.

He has been formally charged with espionage and seeking to overthrow the Turkish government, accusations the US embassy in Ankara said were "wholly without merit".

The American embassy on Sunday halted issuing non-immigrant visas related to tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study, after the arrest.

And the Turkish embassy in Washington responded in a tit-for-tat move suspending all visa services at its missions for American citizens in the US within hours of its counterpart's move.

Outgoing ambassador to Turkey John Bass said earlier this week Topuz, who worked at the US consulate in Istanbul, had not been "allowed sufficient access to his attorney".

Akalp said that he had met Topaz when he was first detained late September but did not say how many times.

Anadolu reported Topuz was accompanied by his lawyers Akalp and Alibas when he gave a statement on October 3 after his detention on September 25.

Topuz was formally charged on October 4.

Relations between the NATO allies were already tense over American support for Syrian Kurdish militia Turkey views as "terrorists" and the US failure to extradite Gulen.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, denies any involvement in the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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