The United States on Sunday indefinitely suspended handling all regular visa applications in Turkey, dramatically escalating a row after one of the mission’s Turkish staffers was arrested.
The Ankara embassy said in a statement that until further notice none of its missions in Turkey would issue non-immigrant visas.
“Recent events” had forced the US government to reassess Turkey’s “commitment” to the security of US mission services and personnel in the country, it said.
In order to minimise the number of visitors while the assessment is carried out, “effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all US diplomatic facilities in Turkey,” it said.
Non-immigrant visas are issued to all those travelling to the United States for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study. Immigrant visa services are only for those seeking to live in the US permanently.
Beyond mentioning “recent events”, the statement made no explicit mention of the the arrest by Turkish authorities of a local Turkish staffer working at the US consulate in Istanbul.
The employee was remanded in custody by an Istanbul court late Wednesday on accusations of links to the group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The staffer has been formally charged with espionage and seeking to overthrow the Turkish government