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Turkish diplomats, military seek Germany refuge

Mara Bierbach
April 1, 2017

Berlin is revising its guidelines for Turkish asylum seekers given President Erdogan's "systematic persecution of alleged members of the Gulen movement." More and more Turks are seeking refuge in Germany.

Hannover Messe Industrie
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

A total of 262 asylum requests from Turkish citizens who have worked as diplomats or soldiers are currently being reviewed by Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), "Der Spiegel" reported on Saturday.

According to the news magazine, the BAMF had not yet made a decision on any of the cases.

Based on an assessment from the German foreign ministry, the BAMF is currently reworking its guidelines for Turkey, "Der Spiegel" reported. Because of this, the ratio of granted asylum requests from Turkey in Germany could soon rise. 

Fethullah Gülen
President Erdogan has accused preacher and political activist Fethullan Gulen (pictured) of orchestrating the coup, but Gulen has denied thisImage: picture alliance/dpa/M.Smith

'Excessive' use of terrorism accusations

The foreign ministry found that there are "clear indicators that there is a systematic persecution of alleged members of the Gulen movement" and that Ankara has made "excessive" terrorism accusations.

Following a military coup in July 2016, the administration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken increasingly harsh measure against critics and alleged members of the so-called Gulen movement. Erdogan has accused Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is currently in exile in the US, of orchestrating coup against him. Gulen has denied this.

Turkey has officially been in a"state of emergency" since the coup, which allows officials more leeway in detaining and prosecuting alleged coup supporters and people allegedly linked to terrorist activities. Thousands of government employees have been fired, including many teachers and professors critical of Erdogan's conservative-nationalist agenda.

When German media reported on Turkish military officers who had sought asylum in Germany earlier this year, one of the soldiers accused Erdogan of attempting to eliminate pro-western soldiers from the armed forces.

Read more: What you need to know about the Turkish-German row

Tension between Germany and Turkey has increased over the past few months, with German and Turkish officials using an increasingly hostile tone towards one another.

Deniz Yücel
The arrest of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel (pictured) in Turkey sparked outrage in Germany in FebruaryImage: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Schindler

Spies and detained journalist

This week, German media reported that Turkish secret service MIT had spied on several German politicians and on Turkish citizens living in Germany.

Many German officials have criticized an upcoming referendum in Turkey as "anti-democratic." If a majority of Turks confirms a constitutional reform on April 16, president Erdogan's powers in Turkey would increase dramatically.

When several pro-referendum campaign events by members of the Turkish administration were not granted permits in Germany, Erdogan accused Chancellor Merkel of "employing Nazi measures."

In February, the arrest of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in Ankara caused outrage across Germany, with Chancellor Angela Merkel calling the case "bitter and disappointing."

Turkish military officers flee Erdogan