262 Turkish diplomats, soldiers seeking asylum in Germany

262 Turkish diplomats, soldiers seeking asylum in Germany


A Turkish officer who fled after the last year coup attempt is escorted by police officers into the courthouse of Alexandroupoli, northern Greece, on July 21, 2016, to face trial for illegal entry (Photo by AFP)

At least 262 Turkish diplomats and military personnel have filed for political asylum in Germany since a last year failed coup blamed on supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

A spokeswoman for the German Interior Ministry made the announcement on Monday, saying that 151 of the asylum applications came from Turkish nationals holding diplomatic passports while the other 111 were from people with no-fee passports, which are issued to government employees, including military personnel, civil servants and their dependents.

“Those figures are not actually statistically sound because they are based on the voluntary statements of the asylum applicants,” said Annegret Korff, suggesting that the real number could be higher.

“The asylum applications will be treated on a case-by-case basis … and decided according to the law,” she added.

The spokeswoman also noted that the number of Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Germany had dramatically risen after the botched putsch despite Ankara pressuring Berlin to reject applications from soldiers and army personnel suspected of having links to Gulen.  

People take to the streets in Ankara, Turkey, during a protest against a coup attempt on July 16, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey witnessed a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 when a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Following the failed coup, Ankara launched a heavy-handed crackdown on those deemed to have played a role in the attempt, which was blamed on a movement led by Gulen. The Pennsylvania-based cleric has categorically denied the allegation.

Over 240 people were killed during the failed coup.

Meanwhile, more than 40,000 have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

Tensions have escalated between Berlin and Ankara after Germany canceled several campaign rallies by Turkish ministers on its soil ahead of an April 16 referendum on extending Erdogan’s powers.

Turkey has accused Germany of “Nazi” practices for banning pro-Erdogan campaign events.


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