Two Turkish generals applied for asylum in Germany

Two Turkish generals who are accused of taking part in a failed military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 applied for asylum in Germany on Tuesday night, the German Bild daily reported on Wednesday. The paper said that after the initial processing of their applications, the generals would be taken to a refugee camp in the German town of Giessen.

According to a report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel in early May, at least 450 Turkish diplomats, military personnel, judges and other civil servants have been seeking asylum in Germany in a bid to escape a post-coup crackdown back home.

“Currently the Federal office for migration and refugees [BAMF] considers relevant about 450 applications from Turkish diplomats, military personnel, judges and other civil servants,” Der Spiegel reported, saying that most of them are linked to the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding the July 15 2016 coup attempt.

More than 7,700 Turkish citizens have applied for asylum in Germany in total, according to the report.

Based on information from the German Interior Ministry, several German media outlets jointly reported last week 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.

The development has angered Ankara, with the Turkish Foreign Ministry releasing a statement later last week voicing its regrets over Germany’s decision to grant asylum to the Turkish officers.


Amid tensions between Berlin and Ankara over the granting of political asylum to Turkish military personnel and the blocking of a parliamentary delegation from visiting Bundeswehr soldiers stationed at İncirlik Airbase, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called on Turkey on not to engage in blackmail, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on Wednesday.

Gabriel has also said that he sought to win the support of Washington concerning a dispute with Turkey over İncirlik Airbase, the Deutsche Welle reported. Gabriel said on Wednesday that he used his face-to-face meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to ask the US to help resolve Germany’s diplomatic feud with Turkey over İncirlik Airbase. Gabriel said he expected the US to confront Ankara as to why a German delegation was this week prevented from visiting Turkey’s İncirlik facility, where some 260 Bundeswehr troops are stationed.

In response to statements from Berlin that troops may be moved to another country from Turkey, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday that Germany was welcome to withdraw its troops from İncirlik if it so desired. “If they want to leave, let’s just say goodbye. That’s up to them, and we won’t beg to them,” Çavuşoğlu told Turkish broadcaster NTV.

“If the German parliament is to be blackmailed, then the limit of tolerance has been reached,” Gabriel had told German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. “I can only hope that the Turkish government will change its mind in the coming days,” he said. “Otherwise, the German Bundestag will certainly not leave the soldiers in Turkey.”

Gabriel noted that if cooperative work is no longer possible out of İncirlik, including members of parliament visiting soldiers on the base, “then we have to consider alternatives.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that Germany may move its soldiers to another country if Ankara does not grant permission to members of the German parliament’s defense committee to visit staff currently serving in a NATO mission at İncirlik Airbase in southern Turkey.

Wolfgang Hellmich, chairman of the Bundestag Defense Committee, told German news agency DPA that “We’re not going to be blackmailed” by the Ankara government.

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that the Defense Ministry was already checking out alternatives to İncirlik in Jordan, Kuwait and Cyprus.


Meanwhile, Turkish authorities have given permission to Germany’s consul general in İstanbul, Georg Birgelen, to visit jailed Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel, who works for the Die Welt daily, in prison, the spokesperson for the German ministry of foreign affairs announced on Wednesday. Martin Schaefer said in Berlin that his country was pleased with the decision and that the visit is expected to take place on Thursday.

Yücel, who was detained in Turkey on Feb. 14 as part of an investigation for publishing stories on the leaked emails of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, was arrested by a court on Feb. 27 and sent to Silivri Prison in İstanbul. Nationwide protests took place in Germany and other European countries after Yücel’s arrest, with demands made for his immediate release.

Schaefer also said Birgelen would inspect Yücel’s prison conditions and that German authorities believe an appropriate and reasoned decision, which is in line with the principles of a state of law, is the release of Yücel. Some German officials including Birgelen visited Yücel in prison for the first time in April.

Turkish President Erdoğan accused Yücel of being a “German agent” and a “representative of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK]” on many occasions. The journalist is accused of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization and inciting people to hatred and enmity.

On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım called on Germany to make a choice between Ankara and alleged coup plotters who have sought asylum in the country in the aftermath of the failed coup on July 15.

The military coup attempt killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Fethullah 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.

According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. (SCF with May 17, 2017

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