Turkish court sentences US consulate staffer on terror charges

Istanbul (AFP) –


A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced a local US consulate employee to over five years in prison on charges of aiding a movement Ankara said orchestrated a failed 2016 coup.

The state news agency Anadolu said Nazmi Mete Canturk, a Turkish citizen who worked at the Istanbul consulate as a security officer, was sentenced to five years, two months and 15 days.

But a diplomatic source told AFP Canturk will remain free pending an appeal.

Another employee, Metin Topuz, a Turkish citizen who worked as a liaison officer for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Istanbul, was sentenced to nearly nine years on the same charge in June.

Canturk and Topuz were convicted of having links to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen and his movement which Ankara has proscribed as a "terrorist" organisation.

Both men denied the charges during their trials.

The prosecution of the two men strained relations between NATO allies Ankara and Washington, which were already tense over multiple issues including the United States' failure to extradite Gulen to Turkey.

Gulen vehemently denies any link to the attempted putsch.