ISTANBUL (Reuters) - German authorities should reject requests for asylum from some 40 former Turkish soldiers Ankara suspects of having links to the failed July coup, Turkey’s defense minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Fikri Isik also said that failure to reject the asylum applications could harden relations between Germany and Turkey, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
German media reported on Saturday that around 40 mostly high-ranking Turkish soldiers who worked at NATO facilities in Germany had requested asylum. Germany’s interior ministry has confirmed that asylum applications had been received from Turkish military personnel, without giving any numbers.
“Our expectation from Germany is that they will never accept the asylum requests,” Anadolu quoted Isik as saying.
He said he would bring the issue up with his German counterpart at a NATO security conference planned for next month and that acceptance of the asylum requests would affect relations between the two countries.
Isik said the soldiers applied for asylum after they were dismissed from the military following the July 15 failed coup. More than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from the police, military, civil service and private sector on suspicion of supporting the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Turkey blames for the coup. Some 40,000 people have been jailed pending trial.
The scope of the crackdown has worried rights groups and some of Turkey’s Western allies, who fear President Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup attempt as a pretext to curtail dissent. NATO member Turkey says the moves are necessary to protect democracy and root out supporters of the failed putsch.
On Thursday, Greece’s Supreme Court denied an extradition request for eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece in a helicopter the day after the attempted coup. The men have sought political asylum, saying they fear for their lives in Turkey.
The court decision has infuriated Ankara, which has threatened to scrap a migration deal with Athens if Greece does not reconsider.
Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Tom Heneghan