Germany grants asylum requests of Turkish military officers

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News about the approval of asylum applications filed by Turkish military officers appeared today in the German media as Turkey's Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci was in Berlin for a meeting with German Minister for Economy and Energy Brigitte Zypries.

Germany has approved the requests for political asylum of a number of Turkish military officers that were lodged following a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, German media reported on Monday.

Based on information from the Interior Ministry, WDR, NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung jointly reported that applications filed by Turkish citizens who hold diplomatic passports have been evaluated and that some of the military officers included in that group were granted political asylum status.

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) sources stated that German authorities waited for the results of an April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments in Turkey to complete their assessment of the applications.

According to the report, asylum status was granted to officers who had been in Germany at the NATO mission and were dismissed following the coup attempt.

From July 15 to the beginning of May, 414 officers, diplomats, judges and high -level state officials and their families have applied for asylum in Germany, the report said.

On Saturday, Der Spiegel gave the number as at least 450.

BAMF statistics show that the number of Turkish asylum seekers has exceeded 7,700. Germany accepted only 8 percent of asylum applications from Turkey last year.

The German decision is expected to raise tensions between Berlin and Ankara.
In March, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık called on Germany to reject the asylum requests from the Turkish officers, warning that failure to do so could worsen relations between Germany and Turkey.

But German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière rejected Turkey’s demand to turn down the asylum applications of the Turkish officers.

The coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Contrary to accusations made by Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, on March 18 said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup attempt on July 15.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded on March 25 that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup attempt.

On March 19 Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, also said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the failed coup attempt in Turkey.

In January, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.

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