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