December 11, 2019 / 10:17 AM / a month ago

Turkish court rules to keep U.S. consulate worker in jail: lawyer

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court ruled on Wednesday to keep a U.S. consulate employee in jail as his trial on espionage charges continues, a lawyer said, meaning he will remain in detention until the next hearing in March.

The trial of Metin Topuz has been one many sources of strain between NATO allies Turkey and the United States, who have also been at odds over developments in Syria and Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defense systems.

Topuz, a Turkish translator and fixer for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, has been in custody for more than two years. The next hearing was set for March 10, said his lawyer, Halit Akalp.

Topuz is charged with espionage and links to the network of cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is based in the United States and blamed by Turkey for plotting a failed 2016 coup. Topuz denies the charges.

“The accusations made against me are just claims... There is no evidence that could even justify suspicion that I committed these crimes,” Topuz said during the hearing.

The court has repeatedly said it wants to hear one remaining witness in the case.

Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Daren Butler

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