Turkish employee with US consulate in Istanbul sentenced to jail

A Turkish employee working for the US consulate in Istanbul was sentenced to prison for “aiding an armed terror group,” local media reported.

Metin Topuz, who was arrested in 2017 over his alleged link to a network led by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, was sentenced to eight years and nine months in jail, the NTV broadcaster said on Thursday.

He was acquitted from charges of “political and military espionage” in Thursday’s court hearing in Istanbul, the NTV added.

Meanwhile, the verdict triggered an immediate reaction from the US embassy in Ankara, reported Xinhua news agency.

In a series of tweets, it said, “US officials observed every hearing in the trial of Metin Topuz in Istanbul, and we are deeply disappointed in today’s decision.”

It claimed that there was “no credible evidence” to support the conviction, and the United States hopes that “it will swiftly be overturned.”

Topuz’s initial arrest in 2017 had also led to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

The Turkish government blames Gulen and his network for being behind the failed coup in July 2016, in which 250 people were killed.

Gulen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denied any involvement, while Ankara has been pushing for his extradition since the failed coup.