The US yesterday (October 8) said that it was suspending non-immigrant visa services at its diplomatic facilities in Turkey, a move that was echoed shortly after by the Turkish embassy in Washington.
It comes after a US mission employee in Istanbul was arrested last week on charges of links to a cleric blamed for last year’s failed coup.
A Twitter account run by the US mission in Ankara published a statement saying that recent events had forced the government to take the action while they reassessed “the commitment of the of the Government of Turkey to the security of the US Mission facilities and personnel”.
Hours later the Turkish embassy in Washington released a statement which similarly read: “Recent events have forced the Turkish government to reassess the commitment of the government of the United States to the security of Turkish mission facilities and personnel.”
Washington says the charges against the consulate worker are baseless and damaging to ties between the NATO allies.
Turkish media reports say the employee, is accused of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and Turkey’s government,” and alleged to have ties to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Ankara blames for masterminding the failed coup.
In the past 12 months, Turkey has jailed 50,000 people in a far-reaching crackdown that has also included firing tens of thousands of people from government jobs and shutting down more than 100 media outlets.