The Prime Minister of Turkey is allegedly “saddened” by the United States’ decision to temporarily suspend its embassy’s non-immigrant visa services.
Since the decision, Turkey has responded in kind by placing similar restrictions on visas being applied for by Americans.
“For the ambassador in Ankara to take a decision like this, to put it into practice, is saddening,” said Erdogan in a joint news conference.
The row between the two countries was prompted by the arrest of an American consular official, who Turkey claims is connected to Fethullah Gulen.
Even now, Turkish prosecutors are purportedly still seeking a second consular worker for questioning. Although no name or warrant has been publicly released, the prosecutors said the man’s wife and child had been detained in the city of Amasya.
“It is Turkey’s right to try Turkish citizens for acts carried out in Turkey,” said Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul.
Gulen is a reclusive Turkish cleric, who fled his homeland after a falling-out between his sect and the current Turkish government.
Since the division between Gulen and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the latter has frequently accused Gulen of operating a “shadow government,” with the aim of destroying or degrading the nation’s supposedly democratic structures.
Gulen has been accused of masterminding the 2013 Gezi Park protests as well as last year’s failed coup attempt. The cleric has denied all involvement, although the Turkish government has persisted in requesting that the United States extradite Gulen for trial.
The Turkish embassy released an announcement almost mirroring the US’ embassies regarding the visa restrictions.
“Turkey is governed by the rule of law. Above all, we are not a tribe, we are not a tribal state,” said Erdogan in a press conference.
The Erdogan administration has come under fire for undermining democratic institutions in Turkey.
Since the failure of the 2016 coup, tens of thousands of soldiers, judges, teachers, and members of the political class have been arrested in Turkey, purportedly for having participated or contributed to the attempt to topple Erdogan.