A Istanbul court on Thursday sentenced a Turkish employee of the US consulate to eight years and nine months in prison for "aiding a terrorist group", but he was acquitted of espionage.

The court convicted Matin Topuz of "aiding an armed terrorist group," which is the group of God Allah Gulen whom Turkey considers the mastermind of the coup attempt in 2016, and sentenced him to eight years and nine months imprisonment. The prosecutor had requested a prison sentence of 15 years.

This judicial decision, which some parties have described as likely to stir tension in relations between Ankara and Washington, comes three days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he wants to open a "new era" of relations between Turkey and the United States after years of tension due to Differences over the Syrian file, Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems, and the detention of US consulate staff, including Topuz.

In an interview with the official TRT radio this week, Erdogan praised cooperation with the United States in Libya, saying that Ankara and Washington were approaching a "new era" in relations.

US concern, US
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement yesterday that he was "deeply concerned" after this ruling, describing it as lacking "credible" evidence and undermining the trust that exists between the two countries. He expressed his hope to "repeal it quickly", calling on the Turkish government once again to resolve this issue "fairly".

Pompeo added that this condemnation undermines trust in Turkish institutions, and that trust is the foundation of Turkish-American relations.

After the ruling was issued, the US embassy in Ankara said in a statement, "We were very disappointed by the decision issued today. We have not seen any reliable evidence supporting this ruling, and we hope to repeal it quickly."

She added that Topuz had done remarkable work for nearly three decades, "and under our management, he encouraged cooperation between the Turkish security forces and the United States, and contributed to ensuring the security of the residents of these two countries."

Metin Topuz is a Turkish translator who works for the Anti-Narcotics Administration at the American Consulate in Istanbul, and he has been arrested since October 2017, and he has consistently denied the charges against him. Consular officials orders.

During the last session of his trial yesterday, he again pleaded not guilty to acquittal, declaring that he will appeal the ruling.