News report | | 08-10-2017 | ±2 minutes reading time

A Turkish employee of the US embassy in Turkey was arrested for suspected espionage. The American consulate responded by temporarily blocking visa to the US for Turkish tourists and business travellers. In response, Turkey likewise stopped issuing visas for American tourists headed for Turkey.

Reason for the mutual suspension

The Turkish employee of the US consulate was arrested by the Turkish government. This was on suspicion of ties with the Turkish cleric Güllen. The Turkish government hold Güllen responsible for the coup in 2016. The Turkish employee at the consulate was also accused of espionage and attacking the constitutional order in Turkey.

The arrested employee worked for the US government, which was immediately outraged at the accusations. They claimed these were “lacking substance”. The US also accused Turkey of leaking information to the press. which made it so the employee was already perceived as guilty before the court could sentence him. America declared that this act would undermine the longstanding partnership between the two countries. The embassy stated that a re-evaluation process would be performed, to guarantee the safety of all employees at the embassy. During this period, no visas would be issued to Turkish travellers wanting to travel to the USA.

In response, Turkey also suspended the process for issuing visas to American tourists. They can no longer apply for a visa at the Turkish embassy if they want to go to Turkey.

Failed coup

Since the failed coup in 2016, relations between America and Turkey have been tense. This is most visible in their current dispute. The Turkish government holds Güllen responsible for the failed coup, who is currently staying in the United States. The USA have already stated they will not extradite him to Turkey. The US ambassador in Ankara has said that the arrest of the Turkish employee appears to be a retaliatory act. The embassy personnel are also reportedly being hampered in their efforts ever since the coup.

Unknown how long suspension will last

How long the mutual suspension of visas between the USA and Turkey will last is not known. The United States have said that they first want guarantees from the Turkish government regarding the safety of employees of the US embassy in Ankara. British travellers can still apply for a Turkey visa for business or tourism, this also applies to the US visa and the ESTA. These mandatory travel documents are still being issued as normal, and can be applied for online on this website.

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