US calls arrest of its Turkey embassy staff as “deeply disturbing”


WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (APP):The US State Department on Tuesday termed the arrest of Turkish staff members of its embassy in Ankara as “deeply disturbing”as relations between the two old allies remained tense amid suspension of visa services between the two countries.
This week, both the US and Turkey cancelled non-immigrant visa service between the two countries , following the arrest of a Turkish employee of the US embassy in Ankara. Ties between the two countries have under stress over several matters, including the Syrian issue and a Turkish cleric who lives in exile in US and wanted by Turkish authorities.
At a State Department briefing, spokeswoman Nauert Heather confirmed that two of its Turkish staff members were arrested this year by the Turkish authorities, including the one on Sunday.
She also confirmed that a third staff member was summoned by Turkish authorities over the weekend, though he had not been arrested.
“We were very disappointed by the Turkish Government’s arrest of two of our locally employed staff.” the spokeswoman said. “These actions were deeply, are deeply disturbing to us.”
She said that the State department remained very concerned with the situation over there. The US Ambassador to Turkey in a statement earlier said that despite the best efforts, the embassy was unable to know the reasons for their arrest.
The employee works in an office devoted to strengthening law enforcement cooperation with Turkish authorities and ensuring the security of Americans and Turkish citizens.
The spokesperson quoted the ambassador as saying that the strengthening law enforcement cooperation between the United States and Turkey was the employee’s job. “The arrest has raised questions about whether the goal of some officials is to disrupt the longstanding cooperation between Turkey and the United State,” the ambassador said.
Responding to a question, the spokeswoman said that she was not exactly sure what the Turkish Government’s motives were. “Let me just be clear we were disappointed in their actions. Being able to have close security cooperation, especially with a NATO partner, is incredibly important.”
“And when they start arresting, detaining our people, our people who are responsible for law enforcement coordination, that is a huge that is a major concern of ours, and so that is why we took these steps,” she added.
Ties between Turkey and US started to take a downward turn during the administration of President Barack Obama and the recent escalation came in spite of the fact that the Presidents of the two countries have said to have warm personal relations. The arrest of the US Consulate employee, Metin Topuz, last week accelerated the downturn in diplomatic ties.