U.S. authorities hit by another consular employee arrest

The deputy head of security at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul was handed in to authorities by the consulate on Jan. 31 and has been under house arrest with an electronic tag since, the pro-government Sabah newspaper said.

Nazmi Mete Cantürk in suspected of being a member of the Fethullah Gülen movement, a religious group that Turkey says masterminded the July 2016 failed coup attempt.

He has been sought by authorities since October 2017, but was not found when his home was searched at that time, Sabah said.

Another consulate employee whose job involved interacting with Turkish security forces, Metin Topuz, was arrested in the same investigation. Turkish media at the time had speculated that he had been hiding at the consulate.

“It is very difficult to comment on the allegations against Topuz and other employees,” then-Ambassador John Bass said at the time, “Because the Turkish government has not provided us with any evidence. Topuz was responsible for working closely with Turkish judicial authorities.”

Cantürk was also in contact with many members of the movement during his nine years in the consular role, the newspaper said, including those with critical roles in the police and security services.

His wife also had an account at Gülenist bank Bank Asya, the newspaper said, which Cantürk said they had opened because it was the closest bank to their house.