According to reports, the Turkish court has sentenced a staff member of the United States Consulate to 5 years and 2 months in prison. The Turkish court has jailed the US Consulate staffer in relation to the failed coup in 2016. The sentenced was passed in Istanbul, the charges for the conviction pertain to terrorism and assisting “terror group”. This sentence came amidst the increasing tensions between Turkey and the United States. The court considered an accusation by Ankara that alleged that Mete Canturk was an alley in the 2016 coup.
Turkish court jails US Consulate staffer for assisting terrorism
The staff member in question was identified as Nazmi Mete Canturk, he was appointed as a Turkish security officer at the Istanbul Consulate. Mete Canturk is the second staff worker employed by the American mission in Istanbul to be jailed this year. In June, the Turkish courts passed a sentence against Metin Topuz. Metin was sentenced to serve more than 8 years in prision for charges of terrorism. Metin’s conviction attracted considerable criticism from the United State officials, who reiterated that Metin was convicted without any credible evidence that supported the ruling.
Mete Canturk and Metin Topuz were both tried on suspected connections with the US based Muslim preacher, Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is pursued by Turkey for being a “terrorist organization.” Both, Canturk and Topuz denied the charges during their trials in Turkish courts. Both staff members’ conviction resulted in strained relations between NATO allies, Ankhara and Washington. It is likely that Canturk’s conviction will result in massive backlash from the United States.
It is speculated that this sentence could give Turkey a greater degree of leverage in negotiating with the United States, especially if the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden steps in. Since 2014 and following the failed coup in 2016, the Turkish government has been keen on jailing alleged members of the Gulen movement, led by US-based Fethullah Gulen.
Fathullah Gulen is seen by his followers as a spiritual leader. He is often described as Turkey’s second most powerful man. Gulen promotes a tolerant Islam, his emphasis lays on altruism, modesty, hard work, and education of his followers. Gulen suffers from a serious heart condition in addition to diabetes, he resides in a country estate located in the US state of Pennsylvania.
It is important to note that the court did not arrest Mete Canturk, which essentially means that he will be a free pending appeal. Several US-based media outlets have expressed disappointment with Turkey upon this sentence. One media outlet tweeted, “JUST IN: A Turkish court sentences a staff member of US Consulate in Istanbul to 5 years in prison on charges of terrorism. Our NATO “ally” Turkey. Time to let go of Turkey, remove it from NATO and implement CAATSA sanctions.”