Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has criticised U.S. ambassador John R. Bass, blaming him for a diplomatic row that saw the two countries suspend visa services on October 8.
Speaking at a news conference in Belgrade on October 10, Erdoğan said that his government would no longer recognise Bass as the U.S.’s representative in Turkey. He said that the ambassador, who was already due to leave his post this week, had allowed “agents” to infiltrate the embassy.
On Sunday, the U.S. embassy in Ankara suspended visa services, in response to Turkey’s arrest of an embassy worker.
In documents that the U.S. says were leaked to local press, Turkish security forces accused the embassy staffer, Metin Topuz, of being linked to Fethullah Gülen, the exiled cleric who Erdoğan blames for last year’s failed coup.
On Monday, local media reported that Turkish authorities were seeking a second U.S. embassy worker for questioning.
Speaking in Belgrade on Tuesday, Erdoğan said: “There is something cooking in the U.S. consulate in Istanbul … How did these agents infiltrate the U.S. consulate?”
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told a press briefing, covered by Reuters, that Bass had her government’s “full backing” and that he had done a “fantastic job”.
On October 8, the Turkish embassy in Washington DC suspended all visa services to U.S. citizens, in response to the U.S.’s move.