A Turkish Rear Admiral on a NATO assignment in the United States has sought asylum in the country after Ankara sought his detention following the failed July 15 coup attempt, state-run news agency has said without giving its source.
Anadolu did not say on Wednesday whether the US had accepted Rear Admiral Mustafa Zeki Ugurlu’s claim, which comes at a time of strained relations between Washington and Ankara.
Ugurlu, who had been stationed at NATO’s Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, is the subject of a detention order in Turkey and has been expelled from the armed forces, Anadolu reported.
Ugurlu had not been heard from since July 22 when he left the base, it said.
Okan Bato, Izmir’s chief prosecutor, told Anadolu he was not able to get a statement from Ugurlu after seeking the prosecution of two admirals from the chief of staff.
The Turkish government has repeatedly pressed Washington to extradite Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen whom it blames for the coup bid, warning Washington that relations could suffer over the issue.
“If the US does not deliver [Gulen], they will sacrifice relations with Turkey for the sake of a terrorist,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said during a televised briefing in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.
Gulen strongly denies the accusations and his lawyer on Friday said that Ankara had failed to provide “a scintilla” of proof to support its claims.
Since July 15, tens of thousands of people from the military, judiciary, civil service and education establishment suspected of links with Gulen and his Islamic movement have been sacked or detained.