Two Turkish military attaches, both working at the Turkish embassy in Greece, are missing after being called back to Ankara as part of investigations into a failed military coup attempt, according to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“Two Turkish military attaches based in Greece fled to Italy and Turkish authorities will contact Italian officials for their return”, Cavusoglu told Turkish broadcaster NTV on Thursday.
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The Turkish embassy in Athens confirmed to Al Jazeera that two of their military attaches, Staff-colonel Ilhan Yasitli and Colonel Halis Tunc, are missing with their families, following an investigation about their alleged links to Fethullah Gulen and his network.
The Turkish government accuses the US-based cleric and businessman of masterminding last month’s failed coup attempt.
Earlier on Thursday, a Turkish official talking to Reuters news agency claimed that a Turkish military attache in Bosnia was also missing, but this claim was swiftly denied by Turkey’s embassy in the country.
“Turkey’s military attache in Bosnia was not called to Ankara, he is doing his business as usual,” a press officer from the embassy said on Thursday, adding that there was only one Turkish military attache in Bosnia.
A total of 160 members of the military wanted in connection with the July 15 failed coup are still at large, including nine generals, according to Turkish officials.
Cavusoglu said that a military attache based in Kuwait had tried to escape through Saudi Arabia, but had been sent back, as well as two generals based in Afghanistan who had been caught in Dubai by UAE authorities and returned to Turkey.
A rear admiral is also ‘missing’
A Turkish rear admiral on a NATO assignment in the United States has claimed asylum in the country after Ankara sought his detention following the failed July 15 coup attempt, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said on Wednesday without giving its source.
Anadolu did not say whether the US had accepted Rear Admiral Mustafa Zeki Ugurlu’s claim, which comes at a time of strained relations between Washington and Ankara.
Foreign Minister Cavusoglu later told Turkish broadcaster NTV that Ankara was still waiting for an answer from US officials about the rear admiral.
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.
Five employees of Turkey’s embassy in the Netherlands were also recalled on suspicion of involvement with the Gulen movement, the Turkish charge d’affaires told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper this week.
“It wasn’t the cook or the servants,” Kurtulus Aykan, acting head of Turkey’s mission to the Netherlands, was quoted as saying, according to Reuters.
“These were high-ranking staff members. Talented people with whom I had an excellent working relationship. I suspected nothing. That’s the talent of this movement. They infiltrate silently.”
Cavusoglu has previously said that about 300 members of the foreign ministry have been suspended since the coup plot, including two ambassadors. He said on Thursday that two officials in Bangladesh fled to New York, and another official had fled to Japan through Moscow.
“We will return these traitors to Turkey,” Cavusoglu said.