A senior Turkish naval officer on a NATO assignment has reportedly applied for asylum in the US. The rear admiral says he's the target of government purges underway in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported that Rear Admiral Mustafa Zeki Ugurlu had sought asylum in the US. He was serving there as a liaison officer at NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia.
Ugrulu is the subject of a detention order in Turkey and has been expelled from the armed forces, the report added.
The reported asylum bid would be the first known case involving a Turkish officer in the United States, as Turkey purges military ranks after an unsuccessful coup attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A Turkish embassy official in Washington said that Ugurlu had failed to report to authorities after Turkey issued a detention order for him last month.
"On July 22, on that day he left his badges and his ID at the base and after that no one has heard anything from him," the official told Reuters news agency, on condition of anonymity.
US-Turkey ties already strained
Since the failed coup attempt, thousands of soldiers have been discharged from NATO's second-largest standing army, including around 40 percent of generals.
US military spokesman Captain Jeff Davis declined comment, referring questions about Turkish military personnel to Turkey.
The case has the potential to further strain ties between Washington and Anakra. Turkey is demanding Washington hand over US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan's government claims that Gulen orchestrated the failed coup.
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag recently said anti-American feeling among Turks was on the rise and "turning into hatred" and could only be calmed by the United States extraditing Gulen.
jar/msh (Reuters, AFP)