Over 600 Turkish diplomats, soldiers seeking asylum in Germany: Interior Minister de Maiziere
A total of 615 Turkish citizens with diplomatic or service passports have applied for asylum in Germany since the failed July 15 coup attempt in Turkey last year, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Moday.
"By the end of August this year, 250 individuals with diplomatic passports and 365 individuals with service passports have submitted asylum applications," de Maiziere told German daily Rhein Zeitung.
"These numbers also include family members of the diplomats and service passport holders," he added.
De Maiziere gave no details about the professions of these asylum-seekers, but government officials told local media earlier that ex-soldiers and former diplomats were among them and that most were accused by the Turkish authorities of having ties with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which orchestrated the deadly coup attempt.
On July 15, a small military junta linked to FETÖ attempted to topple the democratically elected president and government in Turkey and impose martial law. The attempt was prevented by military troops loyal to the government, along with police units and millions of Turkish citizens in favor of democracy.
A total of 250 people, consisting of mostly civilians, were killed by pro-coup soldiers, while over 2,000 people were injured.
After the foiled coup, several Turkish military officers stationed at NATO bases in Germany disobeyed orders from Ankara to return home.
Several ex-soldiers and former officials with suspected FETÖ ties also came to Germany from neighboring countries or Turkey, and applied for asylum.
Despite repeated requests by Ankara to return FETÖ suspects to Turkey for trial, the German authorities have so far turned down such requests, arguing that Ankara must first provide sound legal evidence.
De Maiziere said on Monday that each asylum application is evaluated by the German authorities on its own merits, based on the rule of law and applicable legislation.
Ties between Turkey and Germany have been strained since last year, as Turkish leaders slammed Germany for not showing strong solidarity with Ankara against the July 15 coup attempt, and for turning a blind eye to the continued activities of FETÖ in the country.
Ankara has singled out Germany among European countries for embracing some 250 fugitive diplomats and soldiers accused of involvement in the coup with suspected links to FETÖ. A report titled "The FETÖ Settlement in Germany and Germany's FETÖ Policy," says that FETÖ has been using Germany as its main functioning center and that German authorities have embraced the structures of the group with open arms.
Unconfirmed reports say that about 4,000 FETÖ suspects left for Germany after the coup attempt
Media linked to FETÖ claim that the terror group has around 70,000 followers on German soil.
Germany's uncooperative stance with regard to FETÖ has been a source of recent tension between Ankara and Berlin.
Gülenists in Germany have taken care not to attract public criticism and have particularly focused on interfaith dialogue programs, giving moderate messages to win the trust of the media, influential churches, and political institutions.