8 Turkish generals, admirals believed to be fugitives abroad
Uğur Ergan - ANKARA
Eight generals and admirals and more than 260 low-ranking military officials suspected of involvement in the July 2016 coup attempt, are currently on the run abroad, according to Turkish officials.
The runaway military personnel are believed to be in EU countries, according to Turkish officials.
Despite Turkey’s insistence, EU countries have reportedly refused to provide clear information regarding the fugitives to Ankara and have not even filed Turkey’s demands.
Because there are problems regarding information exchanges and because passport-free travel is possible between Schengen countries, Turkish officials have reportedly encountered difficulties in locating the fugitives.
Accordingly, Turkish officials reportedly do not have clear information as to which of the military personnel have sought asylum and whose applications have been accepted.
On May 14, German daily Bild reported that two unnamed former Turkish generals had claimed asylum in Germany.
The report indicated that the two high-ranking former soldiers applied for asylum upon their arrival at Frankfurt International Airport on May 12, after traveling from Greece.
German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer declined to comment on the reports at a press conference, but reiterated that the government has no political influence on the assessment of asylum applications.
Turkish officials said they believed one of the fugitive generals is Mehmet Yalınalp, who was fired following the July coup attempt while he was serving as the head of NATO’s air command strategy in Germany. The other person is believed to be Brig.-Gen. Numan Yediyıldız, who was dismissed following the coup attempt while he was serving in the Southeastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG).
“In Germany and Greece, they [fugitive military personnel] are in great numbers. We also have intelligence that they are in Spain,” A Turkish official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
A number of Turkish military personnel based in various NATO bodies across Europe have sought asylum in their countries of residence in the post-July 2016 period amid concerns that they could be prosecuted and eventually arrested on charges of being a member of the Gülen Movement.
Members of the military alleged to have ties with the movement launched a coup attempt last year that resulted in the deaths of 249 loyalist security forces and citizens. Along with those who physically participated in the coup attempt, Turkey dismissed thousands of high-ranking military personnel on allegations that they were linked to the movement, recognized as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.
The organization is led by Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic preacher who has lived in the United States since the late 1990s. Gülen is also believed to be the prime suspect of the coup attempt.
Turkey has slammed Germany for accepting the asylum requests of former Turkish military personnel accused of having links with Gülen.