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Turkish employee of US consulate indicted for espionage

ISTANBUL: Turkish prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for a local employee of the US consulate in Istanbul accused of attempting to overthrow the government and espionage. A 78-page indictment on Sunday against Turkish national Metin Topuz, jailed since October 2017, said he was in “very intense contact” with police officers who led a 2013 anti-corruption investigation that implicated top government officials.

The Turkish government accused US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for attempting a “judicial coup” with that investigation and labelled his network a terror group. Gulen is also blamed for the 2016 failed coup but he denies the accusations. The indictment said Topuz, who worked as a translator and fixer for the Drug Enforcement Agency in the US Consulate in Istanbul, told authorities he had been in touch with several police officers with alleged links to Gulen for narcotic investigations.

The prosecutor said this was a “reflexive acknowledgment of his crimes” and claimed Topuz’s communication with the officers was “beyond the limits of consular work”.

The indictment includes telephone calls, text messages, CCTV frame grabs with suspected police officers, along with testimonies from four witnesses and two suspects. He’s also accused of privacy violations and illegally recording personal data.

A judge will decide whether the case will proceed to trial. Among the 30 complainants are Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former ministers.

Two other local consular employees are under investigation in Turkey. Jailed translator Hamza Ulucay is accused of terror group membership with alleged links to Kurdish militants, and staff Mete Canturk was placed under house arrest.

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