Turkish President Erdogan Blames U.S. Ambassador for Visa Row

“Ambassador Bass has our full backing, not only here at the State Department but also at the White House as well,” said Heather Nauert, the department spokeswoman.

The dispute began on Sunday after a Turkish employee of the United States Consulate in Istanbul was arrested and accused of having links to Fethullah Gulen, the Islamist cleric accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a failed coup last year.

The consulate employee was the second to be detained this year. A third is being sought, and the police have questioned his family members, according to Turkish news reports.

The American Embassy dismissed the charges as baseless, and in response temporarily stopped issuing visas to Turkish citizens to travel to the United States while it assessed Turkey’s commitment to the security of American facilities and personnel.

Within hours, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced similar measures in the United States, adding that the suspension included electronic visas and visas bought at the border, the way most tourists and other short-term visitors enter the country.

On Tuesday, Turkey seemed to have suspended its electronic visa service for Americans. But officials said by early afternoon that no Americans had been turned back since none had arrived without visas.

The Turkish government has been conducting a widespread crackdown under a state of emergency since the coup attempt in July 2016, arresting more than 50,000 people and suspending 150,000 for alleged links to the Gulen movement. It has also insisted on the need for wide-ranging investigations and purges to remove coup plotters and Gulen supporters from government institutions.

Military officers, politicians, journalists, academics and government workers have been caught up in the broad sweep, as well as several dozen foreign citizens, including 11 Americans.

Western officials have accused Mr. Erdogan of detaining foreign citizens as hostages…

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