A Turkish court rejected a request Wednesday to release a US consular staffer jailed since 2017 on espionage charges as he told the judge no credible evidence had been submitted against him.
The case of Metin Topuz, a Turkish citizen and liaison for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, has added to growing tensions between Ankara and Washington.
Topuz has been in jail since his arrest in October 2017, accused of ties to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says ordered an attempted coup the year before.
His next court appearance was set for March 10.
“The charges are based on unrealistic allegations and contradictory testimonies of so-called witnesses,” Topuz told the Istanbul court.
“Not one single piece of evidence has been presented to the court that would convince a rational person that I tried to destroy the Turkish republic,” he added, referring to claims made by the prosecution.
The trial has been delayed as prosecutors try to locate a witness who Topuz’s lawyers say has fled to Italy and has no bearing on the case.
Since the failed 2016 coup, tens of thousands of people have been arrested over suspected ties to Gulen and more than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from public sector jobs. Gulen rejects the coup accusations.
Washington’s refusal to extradite Gulen, combined with differences over the Syrian conflict and Turkey’s decision to buy a Russian missile defence system, have put unprecedented strain on relations between the NATO allies.