40 Turkish soldiers seek German political asylum

Ankara, Jan 28 (IANS) Around 40 Turkish soldiers stationed in NATO military bases have sought political asylum in Germany, according to media reports on Saturday.

Some of these Turkish armed forces members are officers, which according to German media, will only increase pressure on Angela Merkel’s government as the Chancellor is due to travel to Ankara for talks, Efe news reported.

According to the local Der Spiegel magazine, the chancellor’s conservative rank and file suggest the impossibility of repatriating these soldiers back to Turkey due to the risk of, once returned, they will be immediately imprisoned.

“These asylum requests, from the legal standpoint, are legitimate and cannot be considered an act of political opportunism,” said the president of the Foreign affairs commission of the Bundestag (Lower Chamber), Norbert Röttgen, of Merkel’s Cristian Democratic Union (CDU).

Two of the Turkish military, whose identity has not been revealed, stated that if returned to Turkey they risk being tortured in prison and also denied any involvement with last year’s failed Turkish coup.

According to these statements, the government of president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has embarked on a purge within the Turkish armed forces that in no manner relates to alleged links with the coup attempt.

“The soldiers affected by the purge have one thing in common: they are pro-West and seek a secular state,” one of the Turkish soldiers told the magazine.

German Public TV ARD will broadcast a feature on this case next week in its news programme “Report Mainz”, two days prior to Merkel’s state visit to Turkey.