The German Federal Government has ordered the Federal Police to detain Turkish citizens who entered the country in September in an apparent scam using official gray passports under the guise of a municipal social project, the Sözcü daily reported on Tuesday.
The gray passports, also known as service passports, provide visa-free entry to various countries and can be issued in Turkey for people on official assignment, while municipalities can also request a passport for anyone who takes part in any official trip.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry recently launched an investigation into more than 40 people after the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) revealed that they were sent by Malatya province’s Yeşilyurt district municipality to Hannover to attend an environmental workshop held by German company Mega Kilit GmbH between Sept. 15 and 27, 2020 and never returned.
According to Sözcü, German prosecutor Thomas Klinge has brought charges against Ersin Kilit, a 39-year-old entrepreneur from Hannover who is suspected of providing documents so that dozens of Turks could enter Germany on gray passports using an environmental project as a pretext.
The group dispersed after entering Germany, Sözcü said, with five individuals applying for asylum a short time later, arguing that Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is oppressing them for being Kurdish.
Following the investigation into Kilit, the German Interior Ministry sent a notice to the police and Interpol, saying that Turkish citizens with gray passports must be detained and that their passports seized until it is confirmed by the Turkish Embassy in Berlin that they aren’t fugitives.
“With this notice, holders of an official passport provided by the government has fallen under suspicion as a whole for the first time,” Sözcü said, indicating that the ministry also released a statement where they emphasized that they were closely monitoring the events related to the allegations of a passport scam.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Interior Ministry last week announced a temporary suspension of the issuance of gray passports to people who are not civil servants to prevent abuse following the scandal in Malatya.