September 18, 2019 / 12:07 PM / a month ago

Turkish court rules to keep U.S. consulate worker in jail: lawyer

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court ruled on Wednesday to keep a U.S. consulate employee in jail as his trial on espionage charges continues, a lawyer said, meaning he will remain in detention until the next hearing in December.

Metin Topuz, a Turkish translator and fixer for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, has been in custody for 23 months. The next hearing in the case was set for Dec. 11, said his lawyer, Halit Akalp.

Topuz is charged with espionage and links to the network of cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is based in the United States and blamed by Turkey for plotting the failed 2016 coup. Washington says Topuz is innocent.

The court has repeatedly said it wants to hear another witness in the case file. But lawyers on Wednesday told the court that the address on record for that witness did not exist.

In his final defence ahead of the ruling, Topuz said he did not accept the accusations and demanded his acquittal.

Lawyers for Topuz applied in January to the European Court of Human Rights and the court accepted the application, a person close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

The trial of Topuz has been one of various sources of strain in already fragile ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Daren Butler and Jonathan Spicer

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