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NATO confirms Turkish officers seeking asylum in member states

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg poses for a photo at the start of an interview with AFP at a hotel in Brussels, Belgium, November 18, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says some Turkish officers with the military alliance have applied for asylum in member countries where they serve in the wake of Ankara’s post-coup purge.
“It is right that some Turkish officers working in NATO command structure, some of them have requested asylum in the countries where they are working,” the NATO chief said in a press conference in Brussels on Friday when asked about the issue.
Stoltenberg did not mention the name of the countries and said each NATO ally would decide on whether or not to grant asylum.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the NATO chief said, “We have seen a number of changeovers in the NATO command structure, where Turkish personnel has been changed.”
“I expect to fill all its posts at the NATO command structure.”
“This is a national decision of Turkey to decide who is filling Turkish posts in NATO command structure,” Stoltenberg added.

Turkish soldiers held by civilians are handed to police officers in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, July 16, 2016. (Photo by AP)

The statements come two days after German media quoted a German official as saying that several Turkish soldiers at NATO’s central command in Ramstein had sought asylum in Germany.
German Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said last month that 35 Turkish diplomatic passport holders had formally applied for asylum in Germany. The actual figure of the asylum seekers, he said, could be higher.
Ankara has arrested over 37,000 people and dismissed or suspended more than 100,000 others in the civil service, judiciary, police, military and elsewhere since the failed coup of July 15.
Stoltenberg also stated that he would pay a visit to Istanbul on Sunday, the second of its kind since the July 15 failed coup, to reassure Ankara of NATO’s support.