Turkish court sentences US consulate employee to prison

Metin Topuz was convicted of 'aiding a terrorist organization.'

Turkish court sentences US consulate employee to prison

A Turkish court has sentenced a local U.S. consulate employee to nearly nine years in prison in a trial that has strained ties between Ankara and Washington for years.

Metin Topuz, a translator and assistant for the Drug Enforcement Agency at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, was convicted of “aiding a terrorist organization” on Thursday and sentenced to eight years and nine months in jail. He has already spent more than two and a half years in prison since his arrest in 2017.

Turkish state prosecutors accused Topuz of links to the movement of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, which Ankara blames for a 2016 coup attempt and classifies as a terrorist organization. Additional charges, which included espionage and trying to overthrow the government, were dropped.

The case has added to tensions between Turkey and the United States in recent years, with the two NATO allies also at odds over a host of issues ranging from Syria to Russia.

The U.S. embassy in Ankara on Thursday criticized the court’s ruling, saying they had seen “no credible evidence to support this conviction.”

Source : Politico EU More   

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Borrell has ‘serious concern’ over US sanctions against International Criminal Court

Top diplomat says the EU supports the Hague-based institution.

Borrell has ‘serious concern’ over US sanctions against International Criminal Court

Donald Trump’s decision to authorize sanctions against the International Criminal Court is “a matter of serious concern,” the EU’s top diplomat said.

The U.S. president on Thursday issued an executive order authorizing sanctions against ICC employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

This “is a matter of serious concern, as you can understand, because we as the European Union are steadfast supporters of the International Criminal Court,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said in an online press conference after a virtual meeting with foreign affairs ministers from the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine).

The U.S. decision comes after Trump has withdrawn from a string of international agreements that are important for the EU including the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal. He’s also ended cooperation with the World Health Organization and pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Borrell said that “he learned this very bad news” when the video meeting was coming to an end, adding that, because of this, “my answer has to be cautious because I don’t know exactly the extent of this decision.”

Yet he didn’t hold back. “I think that for sure I can reiterate our support to this institution,” the former Spanish minister said, stressing that the Hague-based tribunal has been playing a key role in addressing “the greatest international crimes.” The ICC, he added, “is a key factor in bringing justice and peace, it must be respected and supported by all nations and we’ll analyze the decision in order to assess its full implications.”

The Foreign Affairs Council, which gathers all EU foreign affairs ministers, will meet on Monday and “will have their say about it, but from my point of view immediately … I just want to reaffirm our support to the court,” Borrell said.

Source : Politico EU More   

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