Turkish police break into arrested US consulate staffer’s phone
Toygun Atilla – ISTANBUL
Turkish police have broken the password of the mobile phone of arrested U.S. Istanbul Consulate staffer Metin Topuz, finding messages about media reports on the arrest of Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab in the U.S.
Upon the instruction of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the cyber-crimes unit revealed WhatsApp messages from Topuz sent to an unidentified U.S. diplomat sharing reports on Zarrab, who had been arrested in the U.S. for evading U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Topuz reportedly created a WhatsApp group conversation on March 22, 2016 titled “Reza Zarrab” at 8:51 a.m., and shared a report by daily Hürriyet on the arrest of Zarrab in Miami in his first message sent at 9:02 a.m.
At 9:25 a.m., the U.S. diplomat stationed at the Istanbul consulate joined the conversation.
Topuz wrote that Zarrab’s arrest was a part of an FBI investigation and they would accordingly try to obtain information about companies in Turkey.
The messages have been included in Topuz’s ongoing investigation file.
The Oct. 4 arrest of Topuz prompted an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the U.S., with Washington sending a diplomatic note to Ankara after the arrest, demanding the return of his mobile phone seized by the Turkish authorities.
Washington stated that the phone belonged to the U.S. state and any information on it and its SIM card fall within diplomatic impunity of consulate staff, as per the 33rd article of the Vienna Convention.