A Turkish court has sentenced a local U.S. consulate employee to nearly nine years in prison in a trial that has strained ties between Ankara and Washington for years.
MetinTopuz, a translator and assistant for the Drug Enforcement Agency at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, was convicted of “aiding a terrorist organization” on Thursday and sentenced to eight years and nine months in jail. He has already spent more than two and a half years in prison since his arrest in 2017.
Turkish state prosecutors accused Topuz of links to the movement of U.S.-based cleric FethullahGülen, which Ankara blames for a 2016 coup attempt and classifies as a terrorist organization. Additional charges, which included espionage and trying to overthrow the government, were dropped.
The case has added to tensions between Turkey and the United States in recent years, with the two NATO allies also at odds over a host of issues ranging from Syria to Russia.
The U.S. embassy in Ankara on Thursday criticized the court’s ruling, saying they had seen “no credible evidence to support this conviction.”