ISTANBUL (A.W.)—Tensions between the United States and Turkey continue to grow as both countries officially declared on Monday that they will stop processing each other’s nonimmigrant visas.
The latest diplomatic rift between the two country’s comes after the U.S. embassy in Turkey condemned the arrest of a Turkish employee of the American consulate in Istanbul and announced on Sunday that it would suspend the processing of all nonimmigrant visas while it reassessed Turkey’s commitment to the security of U.S. missions and staff.
Turkish authorities accuse the consulate employee, Metin Topuz, of having links to U.S.-based Fethullah Gulen, the self-exiled cleric who has been blamed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the mastermind behind last year’s failed military coup.
A few hours after the U.S. embassy’s announcement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced similar measures in the U.S. The ministry announced that the suspension included electronic visas and visas bought at the border, which is how most American tourists enter Turkey.
On Monday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned a U.S. consulate worker to testify over his relatives’ alleged links to last year’s failed coup attempt. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the employee was wanted for questioning after his wife and daughter were detained in Amasya over alleged links to the Gulen’s network.
“U.S. consulate worker N.M.C., husband and father of the suspects in question, has no diplomatic immunity and has been called to the prosecutor’s office to testify,” a statement from the Istanbul prosecutor’s said, quoted by Anadolu.
Turkey has since urged the United States to review its suspension of visa services as the diplomatic rift has sharply driven Turkey’s currency and stocks lower. The Turkish lira dropped 3.4 percent, while Turkey’s main BIST 100 stock index fell as much as 4.7 percent.