United States and Turkey mutually suspended their visa services in each other's country on Sunday as their diplomatic row deepened after a Turkish staffer at the American mission in Istanbul was arrested recently. The latest diplomatic war has come at time when the tension between the two NATO allies is already showing signs of escalation.
The US mission employee was remanded in custody by an Istanbul court late Wednesday on accusations of links to the group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. Turkey blames Gulen for the failed coup attempted against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year.
The United States embassy in Ankara on Thursday said it was "deeply disturbed" over the arrest and said that the allegations made against their employee were "wholly without merit".
The US embassy also released a statement saying that the "recent events" have compelled the American government to reevaluate Turkey's "commitment" to the security of US mission services and personnel in the country, according to AFP reports.
The American mission added that in order to reduce the number of visitors during the period of the assessment, it has suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all US diplomatic facilities in Turkey "effective immediately."
Non-immigrant visas are given to those people travelling to the US for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study.
Soon after the announcement by the US mission, Turkey responded by suspending "all visa services" for Americans in the US. Turkey said that the measures also apply to visas issued online and at the border.
The Turkish embassy in Washington reportedly also issued two statements which were exact copies of the ones released by the American embassy in Ankara. The move seemed like an attempt to mock the announcement made by the US mission.
The Turkey mission statements said that concerns over US commitment to the security of Turkish diplomatic facilities and personnel necessitated the restrictions. The first statement released said that the restrictions apply to "visas in passports" while the second replaced that wording with "sticker visas".