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Germany grants asylum to escaped Turkish soldiers

Turkish soldier clashes with an anti-coup citizen at Istanbul's Taskim Square during the coup attempt on July 15, 2016
Turkish soldier clashes with an anti-coup citizen at Istanbul's Taskim Square during the coup attempt on July 15, 2016

Several Turkish military personnel, many of them high-ranking soldiers, and their families have been granted asylum by Germany, prompting criticism by Turkey today.

The personnel, all Turkish nationals with diplomatic passports, were stationed in NATO facilities in Germany during the time of the attempted coup in July 2016. They were suspected of being part of the Gulen organisation – which the Turkish government claims organised the coup – and so were recalled back to Turkey. Fearing persecution if they returned, they remained in Germany and applied for asylum.

Turkey, however, says that escaped soldiers collaborated in the attempted coup and are therefore traitors, making them liable to face charges for plotting to overthrow the government.

According to German regional state broadcasters, a total of 414 requests for asylum had been filed by Turkish military personnel, judges, officials and diplomats living in Germany under their posts, which includes their family members.

A similar case occurred recently regarding eight Turkish soldiers who escaped by helicopter to Greece after the failed coup. The Turkish government requested they be extradited back to Turkey, but eventually after multiple legal proceedings, Greece refused to send them back.

The granting of the asylum requests are set to deepen already-strained relationships between Turkey and Germany. A statement by Turkey’s foreign ministry said that the decision “does not comply with the spirit of an ally and harms the multi-dimensional relations of the two countries.”

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