Con­sular em­ployee tes­ti­mony filed in pres­ence of lawyer: Deputy PM Boz­dağ

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Politics -

AR­RESTED U.S. Con­sulate em­ployee Metin Topuz filed his tes­ti­mony in the pres­ence of a lawyer, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Bekir Boz­dağ said yes­ter­day in an in­ter­view with broad­caster Habertürk.

"The tes­ti­mony of a U.S. lo­cal staff mem­ber, a Turk­ish ci­ti­zen, was filed to both the po­lice and the pros­e­cu­tor's of­fice in the pres­ence of a lawyer," Boz­dağ said.

Boz­dağ’s re­marks were made after U.S. Am­bas­sador John Bass said in a video mes­sage re­leased late Mon­day that Topuz had in­suf­fi­cient ac­cess to a lawyer.

"His tes­ti­mony at the crim­i­nal peace court was also filed in the pres­ence of a lawyer. It's im­pos­si­ble for these to be done with­out a lawyer," Boz­dağ said.

Re­spond­ing to Daily Sabah’s re­quest for a com­ment on Boz­dağ’s re­sponse con­cern­ing Topuz, the U.S. Em­bassy in Ankara said: “We have noth­ing to add to Am­bas­sador Bass’ re­marks at the round ta­ble with the Diplo­matic Cor­re­spon­dents As­so­ci­a­tion yes­ter­day.”

"The sus­pect had phone con­tact with 121 peo­ple in­ves­ti­gated for links to FETÖ and con­tacted peo­ple us­ing ByLock hun­dreds of times," one sec­tion of the in­dict­ment, re­ported by Anadolu Agency (AA), claims, re­fer­ring to the en­crypted mes­sag­ing app used by the ter­ror­ist group. "The sus­pect acted as a li­ai­son be­tween mem­bers of FETÖ and its leader, Fe­tul­lah Gülen, who lives in Penn­syl­va­nia," the in­dict­ment says, claim­ing there is strong ev­i­dence re­quir­ing his ar­rest.

Boz­dağ also said that Turk­ish and U.S. of­fi­cials have de­cided to meet to work on re­solv­ing the diplo­matic dispute be­tween the two NATO al­lies and the talks held on Wed­nes­day be­tween the for­eign min­is­ter and U.S. sec­re­tary of state were "con­struc­tive."

On Mon­day, Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties is­sued an ar­rest war­rant for an­other staffer work­ing for the U.S. Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul whose wife and two chil­dren were de­tained by po­lice. The Is­tan­bul Chief Public Pros­e­cu­tor's Of­fice said that the sus­pect, iden­ti­fied by his ini­tials N.M.C. and who does not hold diplo­matic im­mu­nity, was called on for tes­ti­mony. His fam­ily was de­tained in the cen­tral prov­ince of Amasya, it added. Re­ports in the Turk­ish me­dia claimed, which Bass re­jected, claim that the other sus­pect was at the U.S. Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul. Boz­dağ said Turkey should take the U.S. Em­bassy's word that the lo­cal staffer was not hid­ing in the U.S. Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul.

U.S. SAYS MIL­I­TARY CO­OP­ER­A­TION UN­AF­FECTED BY VISA CRI­SIS

Mean­while, U.S. De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis said Wed­nes­day that mil­i­tary re­la­tions with Turkey had not been af­fected by the diplo­matic ten­sions be­tween the two coun­tries and that he would con­tinue to work closely with his Turk­ish coun­ter­parts.

"It is a NATO ally that we will work hard to stay aligned with against our com­mon en­emy and we are do­ing good work to­gether, mil­i­tary to mil­i­tary," Mat­tis told re­porters on­board a mil­i­tary plane.

When asked whether he ex­pected the diplo­matic dispute to af­fect fu­ture op­er­a­tions, Mat­tis said he did not want to spec­u­late but in the past diplo­matic ten­sions have not af­fected mil­i­tary re­la­tions.

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