US Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey Photo: Diplomacy.state.gov
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey’s Foreign Minister claimed a local Turkish citizen previously employed by the US Consulate in Istanbul was being detained due to “terror-related charges” and links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, which the US State Department has said is “without merit”.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu told France 24 in an interview on Friday that there were serious accusations and evidence that the detained person, known only by his initials as M.T., was allegedly spying and had plans to overthrow the state.
“The allegations are wholly without merit,” The US State Department said in a statement on Thursday
Cavusoglu responded to the US State Department’s comments by saying, “This is nonsense, I have to say. In Turkey, we have an independent judiciary and nobody can intervene here. If anyone is involved in illegal activities, they are subject to investigation.”
The allegations by Cavusoglu contradict a previous report by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency on Thursday that the Foreign Ministry denied claims made by the US Embassy in Ankara that a Turkish employee at its consulate general in Istanbul had been arrested.
M.T. was detained by Turkish authorities on September 25 and has remained in custody on “terror-related charges” by a Turkish court since October 4 allegedly having links to US-based cleric Gulen, who the Turkish government blames for orchestrating the failed coup attempt in Turkey last year.
“It’s up to the independent judiciary to give judgment,” Cavusoglu added. “It’s not up to politicians, not up to me and not up to the [US] State Department.”
France 24 inquired as to whether or not the detention of the former US Consulate employee would cause any problems to extradite Gulen back to Turkey.
“We have bilateral agreements with the US including the extradition of such persons,” Cavusoglu said. “We have already transmitted all the evidence that Gulen himself is behind the attempted coup in Turkey. Therefore we ask our counterparts in the United States to start the investigation there and also to extradite him to Turkey.”
“So far it didn’t happen so this is one of our issues with USA,” he added.
Turkey has already arrested 50,000 people from the military, police, and other sectors in addition to dismissing over 150,000 officials throughout the past year following the coup attempt for suspected links to Gulen.
Gulen has denied any involvement in the failed coup attempt.