The two Turkish military attaches assigned at the Turkish Embassy in Athens have allegedly fled Greece to Italy and form there possibly to another European country. Indications have it that the two left Greece together with their families per ferry boat to Italy.
Military affairs website Onalert.gr identifies the Land Forces attache as Colonel Ilhan Yasitli and Navy attache Captain Halis Tunc. Tunc was the first to leave Greece, Yasitli followed. Allegedly, both left Greece, before their diplomatic passports were revoked from Ankara on August 7th.
Lat time the two military attaches appeared in public was during an event at the Chinese embassy in Athens and they had reportedly expressed their concerns to their fellow military attaches from other countries.
Athens is kind of relieved that the two left the country and did not ask for political asylum, as the 8 Turkish officers did. They had arrived with a helicopter to Alexandroupolis, some 12 hours after the coup attempt on July 15th. Their asylum request is to be examined on August 19th.
UPDATE Turkish authorities confirmed that the two are considered fugitive as well as another military attache based in Amman, Jordan.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that Land Forces attache Yasitli and Navy attache Tunc left Greece on 6. August, practically one day before their diplomatic passports were annulled. The two traveled to Italy with private cars and ferry boats. One of them had a brother living in The Netherlands, and Turkish authorities have reportedly briefed Italian and Dutch authorities accordingly.
Meanwhile in USA, the first Turkish military officer asked for political asylum.
A Turkish military officer on a U.S.-based assignment for NATO in Norfolk, Virginia is seeking asylum in the United States after being recalled by the Turkish government in the wake of last month’s failed military coup, U.S. officials told Reuters.
An official at Turkey’s embassy in Washington said Turkish Navy Rear Admiral Mustafa 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 said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
The asylum bid is the first known case involving a Turkish military officer in the United States as Turkey purges military ranks after mutinous soldiers commandeered fighter jets, helicopters and tanks in an unsuccessful attempt to oust President Tayyip Erdogan.
The case has the potential to further strain ties between the United States and Turkey, which is already demanding Washington hand over a U.S.-based Turkish cleric it alleges was responsible for the failed coup.
Other lower-level officers had also been called back from the United States to Turkey.
Reuters notes that “the purges within Turkey’s military has resulted in thousands of soldiers being discharged, including around 40 percent of generals. There are concerns within the Turkish opposition that the restructuring lacks parliamentary oversight and is going too far.”
According to Turkish officials, a total of 216 members of the Turkish Armed Forces and the Gendarme are on the run since the coup attempt.