Turkish court refuses to release US Consulate employee Uluçay

The Mardin 3rd High Criminal Court on Friday rejected a request for the release of Hamza Uluçay, an employee of the US Consulate Adana in southern Turkey who is accused of membership in a terrorist organization, the pro-government Demirören news agency (DHA) reported.

Uluçay 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.

The indictment states that the police had received reports that Uluçay and lawyer Hüseyin Cangir were linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which waged a four-decade insurgency in Turkey.

Uluçay had been working as a translator at the US Consulate in Adana for 36 years. He was first detained on Feb. 23, 2017. He was then referred to a local court in Mardin for arrest but released on probation on March 7, 2017. He was detained a second time following the prosecutor’s objection to his release.

The prosecutor has demanded a prison sentence of between seven-and-a-half and 15 years for both Uluçay and Cangir on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

On Friday, a Turkish court convicted American pastor Andrew Brunson and sentenced him to three years, one month on terrorism charges but released him for time already served and lifted his travel ban.

The United States imposed sanctions on Turkey after US Consulate employees and American citizens, notably pastor Brunson, were imprisoned in the country following a failed coup attempt in 2016. (Ahval)

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