Spy trial resumes for US consular staffer

Spy trial resumes for US consular staffer

ISTANBUL
Spy trial resumes for US consular staffer

A U.S. Consular staffer was ordered to remain in custody by a Turkish court on May 15 after the latest hearing in his trial on espionage.

Metin Topuz, a Turkish citizen and liaison for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), tearfully denied the charges against him, saying: “I didn’t commit any crime,” according to an AFP reporter in the court.     

Topuz was arrested in 2017 and accused of contacts with police and a prosecutor suspected of ties to FETÖ, which is widely believed to have orchestrated the failed coup attempt of July 2016 in Turkey.

“All my contacts with those in high-ranking positions of the state at the time were entirely part of my work as a translator and assistant liaison officer at the DEA. I am innocent,” he said, tearfully.

U.S. embassy charge d’affaires Jeffrey Hovenier told reporters outside the courthouse that they had “seen no credible evidence of any criminal wrongdoing on the part of Metin Topuz.”

“We reiterate our call on the Turkish authorities to resolve this matter swiftly, transparently and fairly,” he said.          

The judge ordered Topuz to remain in custody, and set the next hearing for June 28.

His defense lawyer said Topuz would have remained in custody in any case because he faces a separate investigation on charges of seeking to “overthrow the constitutional order.”          

The trial comes at a time when the NATO allies are increasingly at odds over the Syrian conflict, Turkey’s decision to buy a Russian missile defense system, and the U.S. refusal to extradite FETÖ’s leader Fethullah Gülen.

According to his indictment, Topuz is accused of espionage as well as arranging arms trafficking through exchanges on the WhatsApp messaging service.

His lawyer on May 15 presented the court with a list of his phone calls to police, saying they were entirely work-related.

Metin Topuz, us consulate, staffer, FETÖ