Duvar English/ ISTANBUL

Istanbul’s 14th High Criminal Court ruled on September 18, to keep U.S. consulate employee Metin Topuz in jail as his trial on espionage charges continues, a lawyer for Topuz said, meaning he will remain in detention until the next hearing in December. Meanwhile, lawyers for Metin Topuz applied in January to the European Court of Human Rights, a person close to the matter revealed.

The trial of Topuz, a Turkish translator and fixer for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, has been one of various sources of strain in the ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States. The next hearing will be held on Dec. 11.

Lawyers for Metin Topuz applied in January to the European Court of Human Rights, a person close to the matter told Reuters. The European court has accepted the application, the person said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case. The ECHR requires that all local legal methods are exhausted before it evaluates cases.

Washington insists Topuz is innocent

Topuz is charged with espionage and links to the network of cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is based in the United States and blamed by Turkey for plotting the failed 2016 coup. Washington says Topuz is innocent.

He is accused of being in frequent contact with officers who led a 2013 corruption probe in Turkey, which the government has described as a “judicial coup attempt” by Gülen’s network. Topuz, who has been in custody for nearly two years, denies the charges, saying he did not determine with whom he came into contact through his work.

Topuz’s lawyers applied early this year to Turkey’s Constitutional Court. But the high court rejected the application on Feb. 7, saying it lacked a basis, given the seriousness of the charges. It has not yet ruled on a second application.

Topuz’s trial is one of several strains on the relationship between Washington and Ankara, NATO allies that sharply disagree over some goals in war-torn Syria and over Turkey’s decision to buy Russian S-400 missile defences.

Topuz’s arrest prompted the two countries to halt visa processes temporarily. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump are to meet during the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.