Turkey’s U.S. Embassy retorted on June 11 its U.S. counterparts reaction to an Istanbul court’s ruling, urging Washington to “refrain from intervening in the legal proceedings.”
“Mr. Metin Topuz, a former Turkish staff member of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, was found guilty by the relevant Court in Istanbul, for assisting the FETÖ terrorist organization. He is legally entitled to appeal this decision in seven days,” the Turkish Embassy said on Twitter.
“The statement of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, criticizing the lawful decision concerning Mr. Topuz and in this context, questioning the credibility of the court constitutes an interference in the independence of the judiciary and as such is not in conformity with established rules and practices governing the roles and responsibilities of foreign diplomatic missions,” it added.
Topuz, an employee of the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on charges of helping FETÖ, the terror group behind a defeated 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Shortly after the verdict was handed down, the U.S.’s Turkish Embassy questioned the decision, saying its observers “have seen no credible evidence to support this conviction and hope it will swiftly be overturned.”
“The allegations made about Mr. Topuz’s official duties misrepresent both the scope and nature of the important work undertaken by our local staff on behalf of the U.S. government and in the promotion of our bilateral relationship,” it said.
The embassy in Washington responded, saying “we would like to advise the U.S. Embassy to respect the decisions of the independent Turkish courts, and in any case refrain from intervening in the legal proceedings.”
According to the indictment, Topuz had been accused of having contacts with Zekeriya Öz, a key FETÖ fugitive, as well as former police chiefs and soldiers affiliated with the terrorist group and aiding in their activities.
He was also accused of four other crimes, including attempting to topple the Turkish government and espionage, but was acquitted on those charges due to lack of evidence. The court ruled for the continuation of his detention.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the July 15, 2016 foiled coup in Turkey, which left 251 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.