US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday met with the families of three Turkish employees of the US mission in Turkey who were detained in the aftermath of a 2016 attempted coup, according to reporters traveling with him.
Hamza Uluçay, a 37-year veteran of the US diplomatic service, has been jailed since February 2017 based on “evidence” that dollar bills found in his home constituted proof of his involvement in the abortive coup.
Twenty-year State Department employee Metin Topuz was likewise detained for allegedly attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and suspected links to the Gülen movement.
Nazmi Mete Cantürk, who is charged with espionage and attempting to overthrow the government, has been under house arrest since January.
The Mardin 3rd High Criminal Court on Friday rejected a request for the release of Uluçay, who did not appear in court but instead attended a hearing on Friday from prison via a remote audio-visual link. In his defense Uluçay denied any links to terrorist organizations and requested his release and acquittal. The court rejected the plea.
Moreover, a case in point is that of Serkan Gölge, a NASA scientist with dual US-Turkish citizenship who in February was convicted on terrorism charges that the US says are “without credible evidence” and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.
Last week, Ankara released American pastor Andrew Brunson, whose detention was the cause of a major row with Washington and led to US President Donald Trump imposing sanctions on Turkey.
Meanwhile, the lawyer for Brunson applied to a Turkish court to challenge the jail sentence his client received last week, saying the verdict contravened the law and legal procedure, Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Wednesday.
Brunson was sentenced to more than three years on terrorism charges on Friday but was allowed to return to the United States due to time already served.
Turkey has detained some 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants over suspected links to the coup attempt, the UN human rights office said in March.