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US Embassy in Turkey confirms release of former consulate employee from prison

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A former US consulate employee jailed in Turkey on terrorism-related charges has been released, an embassy spokesperson told AFP on Wednesday, confirming a report by Bloomberg earlier this week.

Metin Topuz, a translator and liaison for the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), has been jailed since 2017, accused of links to US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen. The Turkish government blames Gülen and his followers for a 2016 coup attempt. Gülen denies any involvement.

Topuz was handed down a prison sentence of eight years, nine months in June 2020 on charges of membership in an armed terrorist organization.

During his trial, Topuz said all his contacts with Turkish officials were work-related and in no way linked to the coup plot.

A US Embassy spokesperson confirmed to AFP that Topuz has been released, without providing details about the conditions or timing of the decision.

His lawyer was not immediately available to confirm whether Topuz was released early or had been eligible for parole.

Topuz’s case had strained relations with the United States at the time, with former secretary of state Mike Pompeo saying Washington was “deeply troubled” by the Turkish court decision.

Turkey’s Western allies and human rights activists have long accused Ankara of using the coup plot as an excuse to crack down on government opponents.

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