804 Turks abroad with service passports have not returned: Interior minister
A total of 804 people who traveled abroad using service passports have not returned to Turkey although their passport permissions have expired, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on April 28 while elaborating the reports about 43 people who traveled with service passports to visit Germany last year but did not return.
An investigation has been carried out for these people, Soylu told private broadcaster NTV.
The number of people who went abroad with service passports after the population administration started issuing new passports in 2018 is 109,000, the minister noted.
A total of 2,872 people from municipalities went abroad with these passports as a group within organizations, he stated.
Soylu said that between the years 2000-2018, a total of 7,557 people were given service passports while these transactions were within the body of the police department, noting that it is for them to check and see if anyone did not return during this period.
“In the last six to seven months, 4,496 people who requested for service stamped passports were rejected by our governors,” Soylu stated.
Service passports, also known as “grey” passports, provide some advantages to their holders, such as visa-free travel to certain countries on official visits.
Recently probes have been launched into six district municipalities in the provinces of Balıkesir, Adıyaman, Burdur, Yozgat, Şanlıurfa and Ordu to investigate whether those municipalities violated and abused the rules when they helped people get service passports.
Those municipalities signed cooperation protocols with NGOs for “folklore dance organizations,” “cultural tours” and “youth programs” abroad and arranged service passports for individuals who are not municipality officials, the minister said.