Norway grants asylum to 4 Turkish officers, 1 military attaché

Norway has granted asylum to four Turkish officers and a military attaché who applied for asylum in the country in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.

The military officers and the military attaché were among those representing Turkey at NATO.

With the approval of their asylum application as confirmed by their lawyer Kjell M. Brygfjeld, the officers have gained the right to reside and work in Norway.

Meanwhile, in Ankara, Norwegian ambassador has been summoned to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry after Norway granted refugee status to five former Turkish military officers, a ministry spokesperson said Wednesday. “It is saddening and unacceptable to see an allied country supporting the efforts of individuals who were recalled from their state duty and who abused the political, social, and economic resources of their country of residence instead of returning to Turkey,” according to statement by foreign ministry spokesman Hüseyin Müftüoğlu.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak has also slammed Norway for granting asylum to five Turkish military officers on Wednesday. “This, unfortunately, in my opinion, is the first step that Europe, which suffered from civil wars that cost the lives of innocent people for hundreds of years […] is turning into that Dark Age again,” Kaynak told reporters after a meeting in İstanbul.

In January, a Norwegian newspaper reported that 89 Turkish citizens had applied for asylum in Norway in 2016, including military officers and diplomats, saying they fear for their safety if they return to Turkey.

The VG daily published a story explaining that most of the asylum seekers submitted applications after the failed coup on July 15 as they had been recalled to Turkey on accusations of coup plotting.

The diplomats and officers denied the charges of coup involvement and told the Norwegian media that they would face arrest and torture if they were to return home. Following the botched coup, international watchdogs issued several credible reports of torture of people held in detention.

An dismissed Turkish official seeking asylum told VG, “If I go back, I will immediately be arrested and risk torture and being forced to make false statements,” adding that “in Turkish prisons, people die for unknown reasons.”

In an effort to prove the risks awaiting in Turkey, this asylum seeker also mentioned a colleague who chose to go back and was immediately arrested at passport control.

NATO officials had earlier announced that Turkish military members in Brussels were also seeking asylum due to similar fears.

According to a report in Deutsche Welle (DW) on Nov. 15, most of the 60 Turkish diplomatic passport holders who are seeking asylum in Germany in the post-coup period are military personnel who were representing Turkey at NATO.

Given the fact that the military personnel at NATO have classified information regarding Turkey, which is a NATO ally, German officials are reportedly evaluating their applications with sensitivity. (SCF with March 22, 2017

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