US demanded return of arrested Istanbul consulate staff’s mobile phone
Toygun Atilla - ISTANBUL
The United States had sent a diplomatic note to Turkey after one of its employees at the Istanbul Consulate was arrested, demanding the return of his mobile phone seized by Turkish authorities, according to a document by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Metin Topuz was detained on Sept. 25 and arrested on Oct. 4 on espionage charges, prompting a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Ankara.
According to an Oct. 10-dated document sent to the Justice Ministry by the Foreign Ministry’s directorate of consular affairs, the U.S. sent a diplomatic note to Turkey and stated that Topuz’s mobile phone belonged to the U.S., demanding it be returned immediately.
It said any information and data on the mobile phone and its SIM card were within the impunity of the consulate archive and documents as per the 33rd article of the Vienna Convention.
Topuz allegedly transferred a report prepared by fugitive Gülenist suspect Osman Zeki Canıtez about the December 2013 graft probes to the U.S.
The report had been handed to Topuz by Gülenist police officers, according to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The U.S. consulate employee Topuz was charged on espionage and alleged links with leading members of the Gülen network, accused of being behind Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt.
His arrest led Washington to suspend all non-immigrant visa services at diplomatic facilities in the country, which was immediately followed by a reciprocal move by the Turkish Embassy in Washington to suspend visa applications from the U.S.