Netherlands grants 18-month stay for coup-plotting soldiers seeking asylum

Netherlands grants 18-month stay for coup-plotting soldiers seeking asylum

Netherlands grants 18-month stay for coup-plotting soldiers seeking asylum

AFP photo

The Netherlands has granted 18 months of right to stay for a group of Turkish soldiers who sought political asylum from the country after the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). 

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has allowed the Turkish officers and their families to stay in the country during the period needed to examine their asylum requests, Dutch daily NRC reported on Feb. 14. 

The group of soldiers, whose numbers remain unknown and who were assigned for duties in Europe, refused Ankara’s calls to extradite them to Turkey over concerns that they will be prosecuted. The soldiers said that “there is no opportunity of a fair trial in Turkey” in their asylum requests. 

Turkish authorities have previously announced that the citizenships of those who are sought as suspects of the thwarted coup will not be revoked, if they returned to the country within three months starting from January. 

According to NRC, the Dutch authorities are not leaning toward the extradition requests of Turkey due to the state of emergency declared after the foiled coup. 

A Turkish authority, who spoke to the daily on condition of anonymity, told NRC that a “fair trial” would be guaranteed. They stressed that it was “unacceptable” for the “NATO ally Netherlands” to become “a safe port” for the fugitive soldiers. 

The Netherlands’ Justice Ministry previously suspended the extradition of criminals to Turkey, citing the events that unfolded after the July 2016 coup attempt.

Dutch politician Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, meanwhile, said the asylum requests were evaluated as a subject above political interests. Sjoerdsma from the Democrats ‘66 (D66) political party also called on the authorities to renew the regulations regarding the asylum requests of the Turkish citizens because of measures taken after the thwarted coup. 

Sharon Gesthuizen, from the Socialist Party, told NRC that the asylum requests of the Turkish officers should be given priority when being examined. 

“The right to asylum is beyond diplomacy and is about human rights and security,” Gesthuizen said. 

Moreover, Dutch Broadcast Foundation (NOS) has claimed that over 100 Turkish officers applied to western European countries for asylum. German press previously said that at least 40 soldiers assigned to NATO duties sought asylum in Germany. 

It has also previously emerged that some 86 officers assigned to NATO headquarters in Brussels decided not to return to Turkey. 

Chief of NATO has previously said that a number of Turkish military officers were seeking asylum in Europe.

“Some Turkish officers working in NATO command structure have requested asylum in the countries where they are working,” said Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, in Brussels on Nov. 18, 2016.