The United States has temporarily halted processing of all non-immigrant visa applications in Turkey, according to the embassy in Ankara, with the Turkey government taking reciprocal action.
A U.S. embassy statement Sunday read, “Recent events have forced the United States Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of U.S. Mission facilities and personnel.”
The statement did not clarify the reasons for which it is reassessing Turkey’s commitment, nor did it say how long the suspension would last.
The statement added, “In order to minimize the number of visitors to our Embassy and Consulates while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey.”
Hours later, Turkey retaliated by announcing its own suspension of visa services in the U.S., using language that largely replicated the U.S. statement and reasons for the halt.
Last week, Turkey arrested Metin Topuz – a U.S. consulate employee and Turkish national, accusing him of regular communication with alleged leading members of what Turkey has deemed a terrorist network blamed for a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year.
According to Turkey’s government, the so-called Fethullah Terrorist Organization, created by U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, was involved in the attempted coup in which more than 250 people were killed. Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denies any involvement.