Turkey, US embassies resume issuing non-immigrant visas

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

On Monday, the US embassy in Turkey's capital Ankara released a statement on their website announcing they are to resume accepting new requests for non-immigrant visas on a limited basis in the country. Shortly after the announcement, the Turkish embassy in the US capital Washington DC also announced they are to continue processing a limited number of non-immigrant visas. Last month, after a Turkish employee at the US embassy was arrested, the embassy introduced this measure to minimise how many visitors they received while they "assess[ed] the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of our diplomatic facilities and personnel."

Monday's statement by the US embassy said they had "received initial high-level assurances from the Government of Turkey that there are no additional local employees of our Mission in Turkey under investigation." They had also "received initial assurances from the Government of Turkey that our local staff will not be detained or arrested for performing their official duties", the statement said.

Turkey's embassy, in their statement, said "Turkey also has very serious concerns about ongoing cases against Turkish citizens in the U.S." ((tr))Turkish language: ‍ABD'de Türk vatandaşlarıyla ilgili süren davalara ilişkin de türkiye'nin çok ciddi endişeleri bulunmaktadır and said none of the Turkish employees working for the US embassy were under investigation for their service. However, the detained employees of the US embassy had "very serious charges" and has pending cases, Turkey said.

Turkish officials arrested two staff members this year. Metin Topuz, a Turkish employee at the embassy, was arrested on October 4 for alleged ties with Fethullah Gülen. Gülen is currently in the US, in exile from Turkey. According to the Turkish government, Gülen played a major role in last year's failed coup which led to the deaths of more than 250 people. Last month, Ankara's US embassy ambassador John Bass said, "We have been unable to determine why it occurred or what, if any, evidence exists against the employee."

On March 7, Turkish police arrested Hamza Uluçay. Uluçay was a translator in the US consulate in Adana, and was accused of belonging to the Kurdistan Worker's Party, which the Turkish government has labelled a "terror organisation".

John Bass explained the ban was not to prevent Turkish citizens from entering the US. Turkish citizens who already have a US visa could visit the country. And they could apply for visas from embassies outside Turkey, Bass clarified in the statement.

In regards to the latest assurance from the Turkish government, the US embassy said "the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the resumption of limited visa services in Turkey."

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