USA mission to Turkey suspends visa services for security reasons

Posted October 12, 2017

Turkey hopes ties with the United States could return to normal soon, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday.

"Recent events have forced the Turkish government to reassess the commitment of the government of the USA to the security of the Turkish mission facilities and personnel", a statement posted on the Twitter account of the Turkish embassy in Washington DC said, closely mimicking the earlier U.S. notification.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital of Ankara tweeted a statement from the U.S. Mission to Turkey saying that recent events have forced it to "reassess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of U.S. Mission facilities and personnel". It said the measures would apply to e-Visas, visas issued at borders and visas in passports. Last week, a USA consulate employee in Istanbul was arrested on charges of links to a cleric blamed for last year's failed coup, a move condemned by Washington as baseless and damaging to ties between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. Bass is at the end of his posting and is due to leave Turkey at the weekend. "In order to minimise 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 USA diplomatic facilities in Turkey".

The US and Turkey on Sunday indefinitely halted all non-immigrant visa services to each other's citizens amid deepening differences between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Meanwhile, American pastor Andrew Brunson, who ran a church in the western city of Izmir, has been held in Turkey since October 2016 on charges of being a member of Gulen's group.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the US decision as "upsetting", saying Turkey's response is "based on the rules of reciprocity".

More than 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 have been fired from government jobs as part of a state of emergency declared after the failed coup in Turkey.