ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 12 (UPI) — Turkey is seeking at least 32 diplomats who failed to return to Turkey in a recall of personnel following a July 15 coup attempt.
Foreign Minister Mevut Cavusoglu said Friday that 208 members of Turkey’s ministry staff were recalled to Ankara from posts around the world in an inquiry regarding the coup attempt, and 32 remain missing “without permission.”
About 18,000 civil servants, military leaders and academics have been arrested or suspended from their positions in Turkey, the government believing their loyalties lie with U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it accuses of masterminding the attempt to overthrow the government.
Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, is on Turkey’s most-wanted list. Cavosoglu said a U.S. Department of Justice team will visit Turkey later this month to discuss his possible extradition.
The issue has become a problem for the United States in its dealings with Turkey, a NATO member. The United States has objected to the strong-arm tactics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following the coup, and Turkey has responded by attempting to develop closer ties with Russia.
Cavosoglu said two Turkish military attaches in Greece fled to Italy, an attaché in Kuwait attempted to escape to Saudi Arabia but was sent back and two generals in Afghanistan were caught in Dubai and sent to Turkey. He added two civil servants in Bangladesh fled to New York, and one in Russia went to Japan. The Ankara newspaper Daily Hurryiet, citing military sources, added Turkey’s military attaché in Jordan was also missing. The Wall Street Journal, citing a U.S. official familiar with the situation, reported that a Turkish military officer stationed at a Virginia NATO command center requested asylum in the United States.
“There are those who have escaped. There have been escapees among our diplomats as well,” Cavosoglu told broadcaster NTV in an interview. “As of yesterday, time has run out for those initially called back. We will carry out the legal operations for those who have not returned.”