US Consulate Employee Charged With Espionage In Turkey


A Turkish court on Friday accepted an indictment charging a local employee of the US consulate in Istanbul with espionage and attempting to overthrow the government, state media reported.

Metin Topuz, who liaised with the US Drug Enforcement Agency for the American mission, is accused of having links to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Ankara alleges that Gulen ordered a failed coup in 2016, but he denies the claims.

The Istanbul court, which accepted the prosecutor’s indictment issued last month, ordered Topuz to remain in jail, state news agency Anadolu said. 

He has been in custody since September 2017.

Topuz’s trial will begin on March 26 and the first hearing will last three days. He faces life in jail if found guilty.

The consulate employee is suspected of having contacts with former police officers and a prosecutor on the run accused of links with the Gulen movement, Anadolu reported.

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The agency added that the indictment claimed Topuz had “very intense contacts” with former police chiefs involved in a 2013 probe into corruption allegations that affected government officials at the time. 

Ankara has dismissed that investigation as an attempted “judicial coup” against the government by the Gulen movement.

Topuz had been at the centre of a visa row between Ankara and Washington in late 2017 after his arrest.

Turkey-US relations have been strained in recent years over multiple issues including the US refusing to extradite Gulen.

There was also a bitter row last summer over the detention of an American pastor, but tensions eased after his release in October.

The court’s decision comes a day after a judge in the southeastern city of Mardin convicted a former local employee of the US consulate in Adana, southern Turkey.

Hamza Ulucay was found guilty of helping outlawed Kurdish militants, and sentenced to four years and six months in jail.

But the Mardin court ruled he be released because of the time he had already served in jail since March 2017.


US Shuts Consulate In Iraq’s Basra, Blames ‘Indirect Fire’

The United States on Friday shut its consulate in the protest-hit southern Iraqi city of Basra, blaming “indirect fire” by Iran-backed forces and warning its rival of retaliation for any damage.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered all but emergency staff to leave Basra, with consular duties to be taken over by the embassy in Baghdad.

Basra has been rocked by weeks of demonstrations by Iraqis protesting unemployment and government inefficiency in the oil-rich south.

Pompeo, who has made rolling back Iranian influence in the region a top priority, said the Iranian government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force are threatening US personnel and facilities, and blamed Iranian militias for “indirect fire” — which usually means rockets or artillery — against the US consulate.

“I have advised the government of Iran that the United States will hold Iran directly responsible for any harm to Americans or to our diplomatic facilities in Iraq or elsewhere and whether perpetrated by Iranian forces directly or by associated proxy militias,” he said in a statement while in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

“I have made clear that Iran should understand that the United States will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks,” he added.

The State Department meanwhile sent out a renewed advisory telling Americans not to travel to Iraq.

“US citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping,” the advisory states.

“Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians.”

Iran consulate burned

Ruled by Shiite clerics, Iran has a strong influence in Iraq, especially in the country’s Shiite-majority south.

Iran’s consulate itself was earlier burned down during the protests, although no one was injured and Tehran quickly opened a new mission.

Iran’s foreign ministry earlier called US allegations of fomenting violence in Basra “astonishing, provocative and irresponsible.”

Speaking at the General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also dismissed the US criticism of involvement in its neighbour, questioning why Washington itself was involved in a country so far away.

Earlier this month, three mortar rounds also hit the fortified Green Zone area in Baghdad, home to the US embassy, without causing injuries and with the perpetrators unclear.

Diplomatic security is a key priority for the United States and Pompeo, who as a congressman went on the offensive against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton over a deadly attack on the US consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

President Donald Trump’s administration has withdrawn from a nuclear deal with Iran, reimposed sanctions and vowed to roll back the Shiite power’s role in the region including in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Despite warnings of increased Iranian belligerence, the Pentagon has said naval incidents in the Gulf have completely dropped off in recent months.


Suicide Bombing: President Buhari Condoles With Saudi Authorities

Buhari, Saudi, Suicide BombingPresident Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the suicide bombing in Madinah, which occurred on Monday in Islam’s second holiest city.

Condoling with Saudi authorities over the reprehensible attack, President Buhari said that the development was a desecration of all that was sacred and holy, as it took place near the Prophet’s Mosque, and on one of the holy days of Ramadan.

“The merchants of evil have once again shown that there is nothing religious in their mindless acts, by striking near the Prophet’s Mosque. It validates the claim that terrorism really has nothing to do with Islam. Purveyors of terror are simply agents of the devil,” President Buhari said.

He asserted that the fact that the Madinah bombing came the same day as a suicide bomber struck near the US Consulate in Jeddah, also in Saudi Arabia, shows that it was an orchestrated plan to foul up the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

President Buhari urged nations to remain vigilant, “so that we can collectively beat the forces of darkness on the prowl round the globe.”

President Buhari stressed that terrorism no longer respects international boundaries, and charged humanity to rise as one body “to excise this vermin from our body polity, and assert our liberty from those who pander to base and vicious instincts.”

“With our collective resolve, we shall beat terrorism. Around the world and around the clock, let us be alert. And we would remain free and safe.” he said.

Hillary Clinton Endures Marathon Grilling On Benghazi Attack

Hillary ClintonUS presidential contender, Hillary Clinton, has gone through an 11-hour hearing before a congress committee over the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

The former Secretary of State said she took responsibility and introduced reforms after the attack that killed four Americans, including the US envoy.

Despite the day’s intensity, Clinton appeared cool and in command for much of the hearing. But as the day wore on, she seemed to be increasingly impatient with the Republican line of questioning and with the constant interruptions from the GOP members on the panel.

In her most emotive testimony, Clinton sought to render harmless the GOP attacks by arguing that she agonised over the deaths of four Americans in Libya more than anyone else on the panel.

“I would imagine I have thought more about what happened than all of you put together,” she said. “I have lost more sleep than all of you put together. I have been wracking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done.

“I came here because I said I would. And I’ve done everything I know to do, as I have the people with whom I worked, to try to answer your questions. I cannot do any more than that,” Clinton said towards the end of the grueling day.

While the hearing did not appear to include any major new revelations on what happened In Benghazi or Washington on the night of the attack, it did offer an opportunity for Republicans to probe what they said were still unanswered questions about the tragedy.

She also deflected criticism that she did not do enough to protect the mission.

Her Democrat Party said that the republican-led panel was a witch-hunt trying to harm her presidential bid.



Ekweremadu Calls For Decentralisation Of Police

Senator Ike Ekweremmadu, representing Enugu West Senatorial District, has said that the way forward for the Nigeria Police, in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is decentralization.

While delivering a paper on “Policing and National Security in Nigeria” at the 2013 Annual Lecture of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, the senator declared his stand in support for the decentralization of the police.

Sen. Ekweremmadu further called on the National Assembly to provide the framework for the establishment, structure and powers of the state police.

Professor Onyeka Nwolisa of the University of Ibadan, in his speech disclosed that his major concern is the conception of national security which pertains to democracy.

Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state in turn decried the absence of true spirit of federalism.

Speaking at the event, the US consulate advised that utmost carefulness be employed in whatever decision the country reaches as it will affect the whole black race.