Turkish Justice Ministry delegation cancels US prisons visit

Published 24.10.2017 19:28
Updated 24.10.2017 21:28
US Embassy in Ankara (EPA Photo)
US Embassy in Ankara (EPA Photo)

A delegation from the Justice Ministry, who were on their way to the United States to visit American prisons for examinations, canceled their plan due to the visa crisis between the two countries.

Turkish officials planned to pay visits to prisons in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Omaha, Nebraska.

"Due to the recent visa crisis between the two countries, the visit was cancelled by our Ministry," the Justice Ministry said in a statement Tuesday, adding that there were no visa applications to be rejected.

The delegation included Aytekin Sakarya, General Director of Penal Affairs, Mehmet Çekmen, Deputy Manager of Directorate General of Laws, Orhan Cuni, Investigation Judge of Directorate of Penal Affairs, Merve Özcan, Investigation Judge and Prof. Dr. Mustafa Serdar Özbek from the Faculty of Law of Başkent University.

The U.S. embassy in Ankara said on October 8 that all non-immigrant visa services in its diplomatic facilities in Turkey were suspended after the arrest of one of its employees over the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) ties.

Hours after the U.S. decision, Turkey said it was also halting visa applications from the U.S. The move, announced online by the Turkish embassy in Washington, applies to visas in passports, electronic visas and visas at the borders.

Metin Topuz, the Turkish employee in question, was working in the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul and arrested on charges of espionage and over his links to FETÖ, the group blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 249 people in Turkey.

Turkish authorities issued an arrest warrant on October 9 for another personnel working for the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, whose wife and son were then interrogated by the police.

Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office stated that the suspect, identified by his initials N.M.C. and who does not hold diplomatic immunity, was called for testimony.

FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured.

FETÖ is also accused of behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

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