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Asylum applications from 35 Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports confirmed

Germany says 35 Turkish nationals with diplomatic passports have sought asylum since the failed July coup. The revelations have the potential to weaken already fragile ties between Berlin and Ankara.

Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth told a news conference on Monday the figure included Turkish diplomats as well as their family members.

But he did not say if all the Turkish nationals had been based in Germany, adding that he couldn't give further details about their identities or their motivation for applying.

Türkei Deutsche Botschaft (picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen)

The German Embassy in Ankara

Dimroth added that since diplomatic status is not normally part of the asylum application the actual figure might be higher.

The Turkish embassy in Berlin was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this month, a German newspaper revealed that at least three Turkish diplomats had sought refuge in Germany following the failed attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government on July 15.

Avoid the purge

The applications were made as Turkey began a far-reaching purge of police, military, diplomats and government officials who they claim were linked to religious organizations run by the man Turkey accuses of masterminding the coup, Fethullah Gulen. The US-based preacher has denied involvement.

Türkei Polizei in Istanbul (Getty Images/B. Kara)

Police in Istanbul

More than 32,000 people have been jailed and 100,000 were dismissed from their jobs in the security and civil services.

Turkish authorities have also denied the validity of hundreds of diplomatic passports worldwide.

It's unclear if the Turkish government has requested the extradition of the diplomats from Germany.

Relations threatened

The revelations threatened to reverse recent progress made in addressing thorny relations between Turkey and Germany over a number of delicate issues.

They include the migrant crisis, criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the German media, and the Bundestag's recent resolution to recategorize the mass killing of more than a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I as genocide.

Germany also has a large Turkish population, numbering more than 3 million.

mm/jm (AP, Reuters)

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