Turkey retaliates after U.S. move to suspend visa service

Pauline Gross
October 9, 2017

The Turkish authorities said they are suspending all non-immigrant visa services provided by the Turkish mission facilities based in Washington as a countermeasure to a similar decision by the USA announced just hours before.

The embassy said this was to "reassess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of US mission facilities and personnel".

Last week, Turkey arrested Metin Topuz - a USA consulate employee and Turkish national, accusing him of regular communication with alleged leading members of what Turkey has deemed a terrorist network blamed for a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previous year.

The types of visas affected include tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study.

The US embassy in Ankara has said it will suspend non-immigrant visa services across Turkey until it reassesses Ankara's commitment to the security of its staff.

The move worsened already tense relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

U.S. Amb. John Bass, who is finishing his term in Ankara, said the arrest of the local staff member was motivated by "revenge rather than justice" among some within the Turkish government, Voice of America reported from a meeting with journalists.

On May 7, 2017, Turkey also jailed H.U., a translator for the US Consulate in the southern province of Adana, on charges of membership to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

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But it may be less about Mr Gulen and more about those United States arrested in NY, explained Mr Barkey.

According to Mr Barkey, the Turkish President is highly interested in retaining those Turks arrested for violating the Iran sanctions.

However, the Turkish foreign ministry has denied the arrested man's status as a United States embassy employee.

"It is fair to say that the trust level is near zero and this makes it worse" said Mr Stein.

Turkey has also appealed, so far in vain, for the USA to extradite Gulen, who is a legal resident in the state of Pennsylvania.

Relations between Turkey and some Western countries soured after the failed 2016 coup.

Immediate backlash from this may hurt mostly Turkish students and tourists coming to the US, Mr Barkey noted, adding that more longterm damage -including the prospect of the US seeking an alternative to the Incirlik airbase- will materialize if this crisis is not resolved.

Other reports by GizPress

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