US mission staffer denies charges in Istanbul court
Weeping in court at the start of his trial on espionage charges, a U.S. consulate employee has denied that he chose to contact suspected supporters of FETÖ, which is believed to have orchestrated a failed military coup three years ago.
Metin Topuz, a Turkish translator and fixer for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, faces charges of espionage and attempting to overthrow Turkey’s government. He was arrested on Oct. 4, 2017.
In a 78-page indictment, which includes telephone calls, text messages and CCTV images, Topuz is accused of links to FETÖ members who led a 2013 investigation that implicated senior government officials.
“I absolutely did not commit the crimes thrown upon me. I did not betray my people and nation through espionage. I am not a vile person,” Topuz told the court in tears in a hearing on March 26. “I am innocent.”
He said he had no ties to the 2013 corruption investigation and it was not his decision who he came into contact with through his work.
“As the DEA, we don’t have the chance of choosing these people. Whoever the representative of that office is, we meet them,” Topuz said.
Halit Akalp, Topuz’s lawyer, said he would request that his client be released.
U.S. Charge d’Affaires Jeffrey Hovenier and Consul General Jennifer Davis were observing the trial on March 26.
In January, a Turkish court freed another employee of the U.S. consulate in the southern city of Adana due to time served, after it convicted him to four-and-a-half years on terrorism charges.