Military attaches, diplomats flee in Turkey’s post-coup probe
ANKARATwo Turkish military attaches in Greece fled to Italy, others were caught overseas and several diplomats were on the run after being recalled as part of an inquiry into last month’s failed military coup, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Aug 11.
These added to several other fleeing military attaches, high-ranking soldiers and diplomats who fled after the bloody July 15 attempt as operations in the country against the followers of U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen were ongoing inside the country.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told private broadcaster NTV that two military attaches in Greece - Naval Col. Halis Tunç and Col. İlhan Yaşıtlı - had fled by car and ferry to Italy with their families, but Turkish officials would seek their return.
The Greek foreign ministry said the two attaches fled before Ankara asked them to return to Turkey and before officials canceled their diplomatic passports.
“Greek officials have confirmed this. The brother of Col. Halis Tunç lives in the Netherlands. We are pondering the possibility that they might have escaped to the Netherlands,” said Çavuşoğlu.
Five employees of Turkey’s embassy in the Netherlands were recalled on suspicion of involvement with the Gülen movement, the Turkish charge d’affaires told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper this week.
“It wasn’t the cook or the servants,” Kurtulus Aykan, acting head of Turkey’s mission to the Netherlands, was quoted as saying. “These were high-ranking staff members, talented people with whom I had an excellent working relationship. I suspected nothing. That’s the talent of this movement. They infiltrate silently.”
Daily Hürriyet cited military sources as saying the Turkish military attache in the Jordanian capital of Amman had also fled.
Çavuşoğlu said a military attache based in Kuwait had also tried to escape through Saudi Arabia, but had been sent back, as well as two generals based in Afghanistan who had been caught in Dubai by United Arab Emirates authorities and returned to Turkey.
“There are those who have escaped. There have been escapees among our diplomats as well,” Çavuşoğlu told NTV in an interview. “As of yesterday, time has run out for those initially called back. We will carry out the legal operations for those who have not returned.”