262 Turkish diplomatic, military personnel request asylum in Germany

A total of 262 Turkish diplomatic and military personnel have applied for political asylum in Germany, Der Spiegel reported on Saturday. According to the report, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has not finalized any of the applications.

Citing a rise in the acceptance rate of applications from Turkey, the news magazine underlined that the BAMF has updated it practices concerning Turkey in line with new assessments from the German Foreign Ministry.

The ministry noted that there is explicit evidence that people believed to have links to the Gülen movement have been exposed to systematic investigations by Turkish authorities.

In February German authorities turned down calls from Turkey to reject asylum applications from 40 high-ranking Turkish officers, saying that the officers’ applications would be processed in no differently than other applications.

Last month German media reported that around 40 mostly high-ranking Turkish officers who worked at NATO facilities in Germany had requested asylum as they feared persecution in Turkey in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Upon the release of news story, 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.

According to German media, 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. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic 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.

The committee concluded that “Given the brutality of the events of 15 July, the severity of the charges made against the Gülenists, and the scale of the purges of perceived Gülenists that has been justified on this basis, there is a relative lack of hard, publicly–available evidence to prove that the Gülenists as an organisation were responsible for the coup attempt in Turkey. While there is evidence to indicate that some individual Gülenists were involved, it is mostly anecdotal or circumstantial, sometimes premised on information from confessions or informants, and is—so far—inconclusive in relation to the organisation as a whole or its leadership.”

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. (turkishminute.com) April 1, 2017

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