US consulate employee charged with 'espionage' for FETÖ

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 21.01.2019 00:07

An indictment on Metin Topuz, an employee of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul who is allegedly linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), was wrapped up and is to be sent to the court by the Chief Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul. Topuz, who was arrested in 2017, is accused of obtaining confidential information for political and military espionage, illegally recording personal data and violation of privacy, as well as an attempt to overthrow the government, which carries a sentence of aggravated life imprisonment. The indictment lists a number of names from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Parliamentary Speaker Binali Yıldırım as "plaintiffs-victims."

Prosecutors say that Topuz had "suspicious contacts" with police chiefs and officers who were involved in FETÖ's first coup attempt in 2013. The terrorist group tried to topple the government by falsely implicating those close to the government in a graft probe based on forged evidence. Topuz claimed he had only contacted police chiefs as part of his job as a liaison official at the consulate, but the indictment says those "contacts unnaturally increased ahead of the 2013 coup attempt.

Topuz played an active role for FETÖ and helped the group "to achieve its ambitions," the indictment says. "He was in charge of coordinating and controlling the process [regarding the 2013 coup attempt] and exchanged information with other members of the terrorist group," the indictment says. He also helped smuggle a computer belonging to now imprisoned Police Chief Yakup Saygılı [one of the key actors in the 2013 coup attempt] to the United States.

Based on witness testimony, Topuz was also in touch with Adil Öksüz, a theology lecturer who served as an influential figure in the terrorist group and one of the architects of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Witness Nizamettin Çelikbilek who attended meetings with Topuz and a military officer with ties to FETÖ, said Topuz knew Öksüz back in 2007 and obeyed the latter's orders.

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