Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A Turkish court this week ordered the release a U.S. consulate employee after he was convicted on a terror charge, officials said Wednesday.
The worker, Hamza Ulucay, was an interpreter at the U.S. consulate in Turkey's Adana province. After his arrest and trial, he received a sentence of four and-a-half years from the Third Criminal Court in Mardin. He'd been charged with aiding an armed terrorist organization as a non-member.
Ulucay has denied the charge and sought an acquittal in court.
Ulucay was detained and released in 2017, accused of attempting to incite rioting on behalf of PKK, the far-left Kurdistan Workers Party regarded by the Turkish government as a terrorist group. He was arrested again after a top PKK leader was assassinated in Mardin province and Ulucay was accused of trying to incite riots.
Jeffrey Hovenier, the U.S. Charge d'affaires in Turkey, and Alejandro Hoot Baez, consul-general of the consulate in Ankara, were at the trial.
The Turkish court's disposition of Ulucay's case followed a similar pattern seen against Andrew Brunson, an American minister arrested in Turkey on charges he aided in an attempted military coup in 2016. He was sentenced to three years and released last October after two years in prison. Brunson denied the charges, and his detention caused a diplomatic rift between Turkey and the United States.