US Consulate employee charged with espionage

Ankara alleges that Fethullah Gulen ordered a failed coup in 2016, but he denies the claims. (Reuters)
Updated 01 February 2019

US Consulate employee charged with espionage

  • The Istanbul court ordered Topuz to remain in jail
  • He has been in custody since September 2017

ANKARA: A Turkish court on Friday accepted an indictment charging a local employee of the US Consulate in Istanbul with espionage and attempting to overthrow the government, state media reported.

Metin Topuz, who liaised with the US Drug Enforcement Agency for the American mission, is accused of having links to US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Ankara alleges that Gulen ordered a failed coup in 2016, but he denies the claims.

The Istanbul court, which accepted the prosecutor’s indictment issued last month, ordered Topuz to remain in jail, state news agency Anadolu said. He has been in custody since September 2017.

Topuz’s trial will begin on March 26 and the first hearing will last three days. He faces life in jail if found guilty.

The consulate employee is suspected of having contacts with former police officers and a prosecutor on the run accused of links with the Gulen movement, Anadolu reported.

The agency added that the indictment claimed Topuz had “very intense contacts” with former police chiefs involved in a 2013 probe into corruption allegations that affected government officials at the time.

Ankara has dismissed that investigation as an attempted “judicial coup” against the government by the Gulen movement.

Topuz had been at the center of a visa row between Ankara and Washington in late 2017 after his arrest.

Turkey-US relations have been strained in recent years over multiple issues including the US refusing to extradite Gulen.

There was also a bitter row last summer over the detention of an American pastor, but tensions eased after his release in October.

The court’s decision comes a day after a judge in the southeastern city of Mardin convicted a former local employee of the US consulate in Adana, southern Turkey.

Hamza Ulucay was found guilty of helping outlawed Kurdish militants, and sentenced to four years and six months in jail.

But the Mardin court ruled he be released because of the time he had already served in jail since March 2017.


Fire breaks out at petrochemical facility in southwest Iran

Updated 12 July 2020

Fire breaks out at petrochemical facility in southwest Iran

  • The fire was caused by an oil leak but did not lead to any casualties or financial damage

A fire broke out at a facility belonging to the Shahid Tondgooyan Petrochemical Company in southwest Iran but was quickly contained, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday, citing a local official.
The fire was caused by an oil leak but did not lead to any casualties or financial damage, Mohsen Beyranvand, the governor of Mahshahr county said, according to IRNA.
Beyranvand described the fire as minor and said it was put out in less than ten minutes.
There have been several explosions around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial facilities since late June.
A gas explosion shook a residential building in Iran’s capital Tehran on Saturday, injuring one person, the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted the city fire department as saying.
A chlorine gas leak occurred at a unit of the Karoon petrochemicals plant near the port of Bandar Imam Khomeini on the Gulf on July 4, injuring dozens, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported. (Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh, editing by Louise Heavens)