US-Turkey visas: How objective was the coverage?
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US-Turkey visas: How objective was the coverage?

December 29, 2017

The Raw Data

Unspun and unbiased. These are the facts.

US and Turkey lift reciprocal visa restrictions

The United States and Turkey each announced on Thursday that they would lift nonimmigrant visa restrictions enacted on Oct. 8 on each other’s citizens. The U.S. had implemented the visa restrictions in response to the arrest of a U.S. consular staff member who was a Turkish national, and then Turkey implemented reciprocal visa restrictions. Turkey charged the U.S. consular staff member, Metin Topuz, with espionage, trying to overthrow Turkey’s government and acting against the Turkish Constitution.

The U.S. embassy in Ankara said it had received “assurances” that “no additional local employees of our Mission in Turkey [are] under investigation” and that “local staff of our Embassy and consulates will not be detained or arrested for performing their official duties.” The embassy said it had been told that “Turkish authorities will inform the U.S. government in advance if the Government of Turkey intends to detain or arrest any member of the local staff.”  

“Based on adherence to these assurances, the Department of State is confident that the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the full resumption of visa services in Turkey,” the U.S. embassy said.  

The Turkish embassy in Washington said it “welcome[s]” the U.S. decision to resume regular visa service, and would lift restrictions on visa services for American citizens “in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.”

The Turkish statement also said the government “has not provided any assurances concerning the ongoing judicial processes” and that “no foreign mission personnel has been subjected to legal investigation in performing their official duties in our country.”

Top Spin Words

  • Permanently soured

    Indeed, Mr. Erdogan’s sudden attempt at making nice with European nations came as a particular surprise, since his relationship with the continent seemed to have permanently soured this year. (The New York Times)

  • Standoff

    The end of the visa standoff caps a turbulent year in U.S.-Turkish relations. (The Washington Post)

  • Thorn

    Another thorn in the relationship was a clash between protesters and Erdogan’s bodyguards outside the ambassador’s residence. (The Washington Post)

  • Damaging

    Washington condemned the arrest of the consulate employee, a male Turkish citizen, as baseless and damaging to bilateral relations. (BBC)

  • Tensions

    But tensions had been brewing for some time, with the US complaining of heavy-handed treatment of pro-Kurdish demonstrators by Turkish security officials during Mr Erdogan’s visit to Washington in May. (BBC)

  • Bashing

    Turkey’s Erdogan Tries to Play Nice, After a Year of Bashing Europe (The New York Times)

  • Crisis

    Relations with the United States were not much better, as both countries tightened visa requirements in a crisis ignited by Turkey’s arrest of two of its citizens who worked for the State Department in Turkey. (The New York Times)

    U.S. and Turkey visa crisis ends after three-month standoff (The Washington Post)

    The United States and Turkey announced Thursday an end to visa restrictions that have affected thousands of travelers, but tensions continued to fester as Turkish officials disputed a U.S. account of how the crisis was resolved. (The Washington Post)

  • Desperation

    Analysts of Turkish politics were divided on the reasons behind the Turkish president’s about-face, but some took it as a sign of his desperation at ending the year ostracized internationally. (The New York Times)

  • Strained

    Relations between Turkey and other countries have also become strained as Mr Erdogan appears to be taking a more assertive approach to foreign relations. (BBC)

  • Row

    The visa row was sparked Oct. 8, when the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services for Turkish nationals. (Anadolu Agency)

    Against the deteriorating relationship, the row over the visas took on political overtones, even as the State Department said it was purely about the safety of its employees. (The Washington Post)

    US missions in Turkey to resume full visa services after row (BBC)



The Washington Post

“The end of the visa standoff caps a turbulent year in U.S.-Turkish relations.”

The U.S. and Turkey both implemented visa restrictions in each other’s country between October and December.

Anadolu Agency

“The [alleged terrorist organization] has a considerable presence outside Turkey.”

The BBC reports that in May 2016, Turkey declared a movement called Hizmet to be a terrorist organization. The movement runs schools inside and outside of Turkey, including 100 in the U.S.

The New York Times

“By now, the crosswinds of Mr. Erdogan’s public statements have sealed his reputation as a leader of changeable temperament who seems to shift Turkey’s policies along with his moods.”

No facts here.

Fact Comparison

  • Facts in only 1 source
  • Facts in 2 sources
  • Facts in 3 sources
  • Facts in all sources

The U.S. State Department said its decision on visa services “came after Turkey reassured officials that local employees would not be subjected to additional scrutiny.” Turkey denied that it gave such an assurance. (Anadolu Agency)

The U.S. State Department’s statement doesn’t mention assurances that additional investigations (“scrutiny”) of local employees won’t happen in the future. It mentions assurances that no employees are currently being investigated and that the U.S. would be informed before the arrest or detainment of any of its local employees in the future. This inaccuracy may add to Anadolu’s bias that the U.S. is in the wrong.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara posted a notice on its website saying full visa service was resuming because the Turkish government had provided “assurances” that its local employees would not be arrested for actions related to their jobs. It also said Turkey said it would alert the embassy in the future if Turkey intends to arrest any other Turkish employee of the U.S. The Turkish Embassy said it gave no such assurances. (The Washington Post)

The Post says Turkey denied giving assurances about future arrests. The Turkish statement doesn’t say that. It says Turkey didn’t offer “assurances” about the “ongoing judicial processes,” such as for the two employees who have already been arrested.


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