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Turkish translator at US Consulate faces up to 15 years in prison 

March 12, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Metin Topuz, a Turkish translator at the US Consulate, was arrested in 2017 following the 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey, 12 March 2020 [Twitter]

A Turkish employee at the US Consulate in Istanbul should be acquitted on charges of espionage and trying to overthrow the government, but should still face a prison sentence on a lesser charge of belonging to a terrorist organisation, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.

According to a report by Hurriyet, Metin Topuz, a translator for the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) at the consulate, was arrested in 2017 following the 2016 failed coup attempt blamed on the movement headed by Fethullah Gülen. The cleric lives in self-imposed exile in the US.

The prosecutor said that the recent contact made by Topuz with members of the Gülen network showed that he was a member of the group. He asked for Topuz to be spared the life sentence on the more serious charges, but still to be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison on the lesser charge. The Gülen Movement was designated as a terrorist organisation by the Turkish government following the coup attempt.

The defendant claimed that he has not been identified clearly with the Gülenist members. Nevertheless, the court rejected a request by his defence lawyers for Topuz to be released, and postponed the trial until 11 June.

READ: US apologises for ‘liking’ Gülen supporter’s Twitter post

The US Consul General in Istanbul, Daria Darnell, and Chargé d’Affaires Jeffrey Hovenier attended the legal hearing at the city’s 14th High Criminal Court. Topuz’s case has been a source of tension between Turkey and the US.

Ankara has also had diplomatic problems in recent years over Washington’s arming of the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) in Syria and backing for the Gülen Movement. Last year, the US Embassy in Ankara posted an apology on Twitter after it “liked” a tweet by a Gülen supporter, it was reported.