CLARIFIES TURKISH EMBASSY'S STATEMENT
By Safvan Allahverdi
WASHINGTON (AA) - Turkey on Thursday welcomed a U.S. decision to lift restrictions on visa services but denied it gave any assurances concerning the "ongoing judicial processes".
"We welcome the decision of the United States to resume as of today regular visa procedures, by lifting the restrictions applied to our citizens," the Turkish Embassy in the U.S. said in statement.
In a reciprocal move, Turkey also lifted restrictions on visa services for American citizens, according to the embassy.
The State Department released a statement earlier in the day that indicated visa services in Turkey had been fully restored and claimed the decision came after Turkey reassured officials that local employees would not be subjected to additional scrutiny.
The Turkish Embassy in Washington denied those assertions and emphasized the rule of law.
"Regarding the assurances expressed in the U.S. statement, we would like to emphasize that Turkey is a state of law, and that our government has not provided any assurances concerning the ongoing judicial processes," the Turkish Embassy said.
"No foreign mission personnel has been subjected to legal investigation in performing their official duties in our country," the statement read.
"Despite our previous clarifications to the contrary, it is inappropriate to misinform Turkish an American public that such assurance were provided."
It also voiced concerns about legal cases in the U.S. involving Turkish citizens.
"We will continue to engage with our American counterparts to seek a satisfactory resolution of these cases," it added.
The visa row was sparked Oct. 8, when the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services for Turkish nationals.
That followed the arrest of Metin Topuz -- a U.S. consulate employee who was arrested for alleged ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). The group is accused of being behind the July 15, 2016, defeated coup in Turkey.
Topuz has been linked to more than 120 FETO suspects, including police chiefs, over a protracted period, according to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office.
Ankara responded to the U.S. move in October with similar actions.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader, Fetullah Gulen, are also suspected of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the Turkish state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
The terror group has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private educational institutions that investigators have found serve as a revenue stream for the terror group.