Turkish court frees US consulate employee

ANKARA: A Turkish court ruled on Wednesday that a US consulate employee in the southern city of Adana be released after it convicted him of membership and support for an armed terrorist organisation, state media said.

Hamza Ulucay, a translator at the US consulate in Adana, was sentenced to four and a half years in jail but released by the court due to time served, the state-owned Anadolu news agency said.

Ulucay was detained along with two other local US consulate employees and a former Turkish-American NASA scientist in 2017 over terrorism charges. Washington wants all of them released.

During his trial on Wednesday Ulucay sought acquittal, but his request was denied and he was released with a travel ban after being sentenced, Anadolu said.

Last year, relations between Ankara and Washington neared breaking point over the two-year detention and trial of US evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson on terrorism charges. Brunson, who denied the charges, was freed on Oct 12.

While tensions eased between the Nato allies after Brunson’s release, Ankara still repeatedly demands that the United States extradite US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it accuses of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. Gulen denies any involvement.

Issues warrants for military pilots
Turkish authorities on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for 63 suspects, most of the military pilots, allegedly linked to a 2016 failed coup attempt, the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said.

The roundup is part of an investigation carried out by the prosecutor into the “Fethullah Terror Organisation” or FETO, acronym authorities use for the group allegedly behind the failed putsch.

Forty-six of the 63 suspects are helicopter pilots on active military duty, the office said.

Two are former pilots and the remaining 15 are civilians working for the movement, it added.

Police raids to catch the suspects were underway.
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