COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A group of Turkish military officers based in Norway who had refused to return home after the failed July 15 coup attempt, were granted political asylum Wednesday.
"I can confirm they have gotten political asylum in Norway. We are talking about a number of officers, based in Norway and who had been ordered home after the coup," lawyer Kjell M. Brygfjeld told The Associated Press.
Norwegian justice and immigration authorities declined to comment.
"They had been in Norway for a couple of years," Brygfjeld said, declining to confirm local media reports that there were five men involved.
Newspaper Verdens Gang said the group feared being arrested in Turkey. One of them who was not identified told the daily last month he had been fired, his passport had been canceled and he feared torture if he returned.
"If I return, I will be detained and risk torture and will be forced to make a false confession. People die inexplicably in Turkish prisons," the person who was not identified told Verdens Gang last month.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Norwegian ambassador to protest the decision to grant the officers asylum.
A ministry statement said it was "regrettable and unacceptable" that a NATO ally had supported the officers' "efforts to abuse the political, social and economic resources" of Norway instead of their return to Turkey.
"This is not an acceptable situation. Europe should not become a safe haven for coup plotters, for terrorists and murderers." Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, told reporters earlier in the northern Turkish city of Sinop.
In 2016, 89 people from Turkey applied for asylum in Norway — with peaks in September and October when 17 and 28 people sought shelter respectively.
Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.