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US 'deeply disturbed' by arrest of Istanbul consulate staffer

[ISTANBUL] The United States on Thursday said it was "deeply disturbed" over the arrest by Turkish authorities of a local staffer working at its consulate in Istanbul, saying the charges against him were baseless.

The staffer was remanded in custody by an Istanbul court late on Wednesday on accusations of links to the group of Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed by Ankara for last year's failed coup, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The man has been formally charged with espionage and seeking to overthrow the Turkish government, it added.

"The United States government is deeply disturbed by the arrest of a locally-employed staff member," the US embassy in Ankara said in a statement.

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"We believe these allegations to be wholly without merit," it added.

Turkey has pressed Washington for the extradition of the Pennsylvania-based Gulen, who denies any link to the coup bid. The lack of movement on the issue has further strained already tense ties.