Turkey summons US diplomat as spat deepens

A woman waiting in front of the visa application office entrance of the United States Embassy in Ankara yesterday. The US has stopped visa services at all its missions in Turkey. Ankara yesterday summoned the US Embassy's deputy chief of mission, Mr
A woman waiting in front of the visa application office entrance of the United States Embassy in Ankara yesterday. The US has stopped visa services at all its missions in Turkey. Ankara yesterday summoned the US Embassy's deputy chief of mission, Mr Philip Kosnett, who was told Turkey expected a reversal of the move.PHOTO: REUTERS

ANKARA • The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the United States Embassy's deputy chief of mission yesterday, urging Washington to reverse its decision to suspend all non-immigrant visa services in an escalating row.

Mr Philip Kosnett was told that Turkey expected the reversal of the move announced on Sunday to stop visa services at all US missions in Turkey, state-run news agency Anadolu said.

Ministry officials told Mr Kosnett the move was creating "unnecessary escalation and victimisation", Anadolu reported.

Ankara had responded almost immediately in a tit-for-tat move by suspending all visa services for Americans in the US.

Last Wednesday, a US mission employee in Istanbul, identified as Turkish citizen Metin Topuz, was arrested on charges of links to a US-based cleric blamed for last year's failed coup, a move condemned by Washington as baseless.

"Recent events have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of US mission and personnel," the mission in Ankara said in a statement.

"In order to minimise the number of visitors to our embassy and consulates while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all US diplomatic facilities in Turkey."

In an apparent attempt to mock the US announcement, the Turkish Embassy in Washington issued two statements that were almost word-for-word copies of that from the American Embassy in Ankara.

"Trying a Turkish citizen for a crime committed in Turkey is our right. I hope the US will revise its decision in this light," Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said.

Separately, Turkish authorities summoned another US consulate worker to testify yesterday over his relatives' alleged links to last year's failed coup attempt, Anadolu said.

It added that the suspect was wanted for questioning after his wife and daughter were detained in the Black Sea city of Amasya. It did not say whether he complied with the summons.

The man's wife and daughter were detained over alleged links to the network of cleric Fethullah Gulen. The two were later brought to Istanbul for legal procedures.

"US consulate worker N.M.C., husband and father of the suspects in question, has no diplomatic immunity and has been called to the prosecutor's office to testify," a statement from the Istanbul prosecutor's office said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2017, with the headline 'Turkey summons US diplomat as spat deepens'. Print Edition | Subscribe