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U.S. Consulate Employee in Istanbul Released After Controversial Detention

In a significant development, Metin Topuz, a former contact officer at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, has been released. Topuz, who faced charges stemming from investigations following Turkey’s July 15 coup attempt, had been sentenced to 8 years and 9 months in prison.

The news, as reported by Bloomberg, marks a turning point in a case that strained diplomatic relations between the United States and Turkey. Topuz was arrested in 2017 on allegations of membership in a terrorist organization, an accusation that the U.S. diplomatic mission vehemently denied. His conditional release comes amid ongoing diplomatic negotiations, including Turkey’s request for F-16 fighter jets from the Biden administration.

The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, in a brief statement, acknowledged the reports about Topuz’s release but declined to comment further, citing respect for his family’s wishes. Details about Topuz’s future steps and the response of his legal representatives remain undisclosed.

The case had garnered significant attention, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticizing the Turkish court’s decision. Pompeo had asserted that the U.S. saw no credible evidence to support the conviction and expressed hope for a swift reversal by a higher court. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara had echoed these sentiments, highlighting Topuz’s nearly three-decade-long service that earned widespread respect from officials and citizens of both countries.

Topuz’s arrest and subsequent trial had been a focal point of tension in U.S.-Turkey relations, with implications for broader diplomatic and security cooperation between the two nations. His release could potentially signal a move towards easing these tensions, though the long-term impact on bilateral relations remains to be seen.

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