Germany searches for Turkey’s most wanted alleged coup suspect Adil Öksüz

Adil Öksüz.

Germany has reportedly launched an investigation against Adil Öksüz, one of the alleged masterminds behind the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 amid reports that Berlin is seeking to normalize relations with Erdoğan regime in Turkey.

According to a report by Deutsche Welle (DW) on Wednesday, police in Germany have reportedly launched an investigation to track down Öksüz, one of Turkish government’s most wanted fugitives for his alleged role in the controversial coup bid. Öksüz is subject to what authorities have described as a “residency investigation,” according to German broadcasters WDR and NDR, as well as German daily Süddeutscher Zeitung.

Since last summer, Turkish government has claimed that Öksüz lives in exile in Germany and demanded that he be extradited. According to Turkish media, Öksuz has been seen in the German cities of Frankfurt and Ulm, and was granted a temporary residence permit in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg. However, Berlin said it had no evidence that Öksüz ever filed an asylum application, at least not under his real name. It therefore has no way of ascertaining that he is actually in Germany.

Last month, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu that, even if Öksüz was living in Germany, authorities would not launch an investigation before Ankara presented unequivocal proof of his involvement in the attempted putsch. However, Wednesday’s reports suggested that Turkish government had passed on “sufficient proof of his involvement” to prompt Berlin to launch an a formal probe.

DW wrote that it remained unclear why the German government has agreed to cooperate with Turkish authorities in this particular instance. Berlin has repeatedly refused multiple demands from Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to deport other coup suspects who had been granted asylum in Germany, including NATO personnel and civil servants.

That prompted Erdoğan to repeatedly accuse the German government last year of “harboring terrorists,” souring relations between the two countries. However, it appeared the Öksüz investigation could be part of both countries’ push to normalize relations.

DW has also written on Wednesday that the reports in the German media suggested that Berlin was ready to once again raise arms exports to Ankara in exchange for the release of German citizens imprisoned in Turkey on allegedly political charges, such as Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel. However, any chances of increased weapons exports were effectively dashed this week after images of German-made Leopard tanks being used by the Turkish army against Kurdish forces Syria caused widespread outrage in the EU country.

DW commented that “It appears Berlin is willing take another approach. Given the political charges facing Öksüz, German law makes it near impossible to deport him to Turkey. However, it would still be feasible for him to be prosecuted by a German court.”

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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