Report: Turkish military officer, assigned to NATO in Norfolk, seeks asylum in U.S.

by WorldTribune Staff, August 10, 2016

An American-based Turkish military officer is seeking asylum in the United States after Ankara issued a detention order for him in the wake of last month’s failed coup attempt, according to an exclusive Reuters report.

The asylum bid of Turkish Navy Rear Adm. Mustafa Ugurlu is the first known such case involving a Turkish military officer in the United States as Turkey is purging its military ranks after the unsuccessful attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. officials said.

Rear Adm. Mustafa Ugurlu
Rear Adm. Mustafa Ugurlu

The Turkish officer was based at the headquarters of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation, located in Norfolk, Virginia.

Ugurlu’s request for asylum could further strain ties between the United States and Turkey, which were frayed when Ankara demanded Washington extradite Fethullah Gulen, the cleric Turkey alleges was responsible for the failed coup.

The U.S. has said it would not extradite Gulen without irrefutable proof he was behind the coup.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said anti-American feelings among Turks was on the rise and “turning into hatred” and could only be calmed by the United States extraditing Gulen.

Turkey’s embassy in Washington said Ugurlu failed to report to authorities after Turkey issued a detention order for him last month.

“On July 22, he left his badges and his ID at the base and after that no one has heard anything from him,” a Turkish official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Turkish official said two other lower-level officers had also been called back from the United States to Turkey.

“But there’s no detention order for them,” the official said. “One of them has gone back, and the other will go back shortly.”

Turkey, which has NATO’s second largest armed forces and aspires to membership in the European Union, has discharged thousands of soldiers and about 40 percent of its military’s generals since the coup attempt.

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