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US suspends all non-immigrant visa services in Turkey after consulate employee’s arrest

US suspends all non-immigrant visa services in Turkey after consulate employee’s arrest
The US Embassy in Turkey has announced it is suspending "all non-immigrant visa services at all US diplomatic facilities," citing security reasons.

In its announcement Sunday, the embassy said the decision was based on Washington's need to "reassess the commitment of government of Turkey to the security of US mission and personnel."

READ MORE: Ankara suspends visa services in Washington in tit-for-tat response to US

The measure was "forced" by "recent events," the statement added, saying it will be effective immediately.

Earlier this week, Turkish citizen Metin Topuz, who worked at the US General Consulate in Istanbul, was arrested by local law enforcement on terrorism charges. A court ruled he would remain in custody while his alleged links to exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom the government in Ankara blamed for a failed coup last summer, are being investigated.

READ MORE: Amnesty director in Turkey & 10 other rights activists face up to 15 yrs imprisonment

The employee was reportedly accused of "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and Turkey’s government," as well as of "spying."

Washington has condemned the arrest, saying that the move undermines relations between the two nations and that Ankara's allegations are "baseless."

The current flare-up in tensions between two NATO allies is unprecedented, Huseyin Bagci, professor of international relations at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University, told RT.

“In the past we have had several crises with the United States of America and NATO, but this time the problem is different. It will be much longer and it will have much stronger implications for both sides,” he said, referring to the long-standing contentious issues that plague the relations between the two countries.

The latest developments will affect both countries in a negative way but the implications of the cooling in relations will be felt more by Turkey, the professor said.

“In the beginning Turkey hoped that Donald Trump would be much more friendly and much more cooperative but more and more we see now the Donald Trump administration distancing itself from Turkish policies, and this will create in the long run much more difficulties for Turkey, in particular,” he said.