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136 Turkish diplomats, relatives seek asylum in Germany

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ANKARA: More than 130 Turkish diplomats, soldiers and their family members have sought refuge in Germany since last July’s failed coup, according to German government data in documents seen by AFP on Friday.
“The government is aware of 136 asylum applications filed by diplomatic passport holders from Turkey. They also include family members,” said the Interior Ministry in a written reply to a query from a lawmaker.
The ministry said, however, that it did not have data on how many of the applicants are diplomats, and how many are soldiers stationed at NATO bases.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has accused a US-based opposition figure, Fethullah Gulen, of having orchestrated the putsch, and launched a sweeping crackdown against his followers.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied the charges and condemned the coup.
Some 43,000 people in Turkey have been arrested over their suspected links to Gulen’s movement, and 100,000 fired or suspended. Many of them are teachers, police, magistrates and journalists.
The scale of the crackdown has raised international concern, with Germany among the most vocal in raising questions over the mass arrests.
That and a string of other spats have contributed to fraying ties between Ankara and Berlin.
Turkey has also been pushing for Berlin to extradite alleged supporters of Gulen and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
In its written note, the Interior Ministry said it extradited 60 people back to Turkey in 2015 for various offences including terrorism and murder.

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