Turkish naval ships & choppers missing since botched coup, fears of Greece defections grow
With suspicions growing that the commanders of the vessels could have been behind a coup plot against the Turkish government and are now seeking asylum at Greek ports.
The ships were on duty in either the Aegean or the Black Seas on Friday before the coup to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took place. However, they have failed to return to port, though in theory radar and satellite tracking technology should be able to determine their locations, according to a report in theTimes newspaper.
It is believed that the ships could be heading towards Greek ports. Eight Turkish military officers have already sought asylum in Greece after landing in the country on Saturday, where they were subsequently arrested.
The fate of the commander of the Turkish Navy Admiral Veysel Kosele, who has not been heard from since the attempted coup took place, is still unknown. It is also unclear if he took any part in the action against the president or whether he is being held against his will.
According to reports within the Turkish media, Admiral Kosele was tricked onto his ship by those supporting the coup who told him that a terrorist attack was taking place.
Two helicopters and 25 Special Forces troops are also missing since the failed coup, according to a report by the Hurriyet newspaper. It was reported that they were heading for a raid to target Erdogan in Marmaris, where he was enjoying a vacation.
“Two helicopters took off on the night linking July 17 to July 18. It could not be determined where the helicopters flying toward a forested area in Marmaris took off from. But its aim [to raid Erdogan] has been determined. The helicopters landed at an unknown location for a while and then went missing,” the Hurriyet stated on Monday.
The EU and NATO both said they do not know anything about the missing vessels or planes, the chief spokesperson for the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, told journalists on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Greek Defense Ministry says it is unaware of any Turkish ships that have tried to enter its ports following the attempted coup.
“We are looking out for every ship. We had information from talks that took place that at one point they wanted to enter Greece’s territorial waters. However, this did not happen,” a source told RIA Novosti.
The most senior military figure to be arrested since the coup, General Akin Ozturk, the former air force chief, has already appeared in court. He has denied being the mastermind behind the plot.
Meanwhile, a purge of various Turkish government institutions has been taking place following the failed coup d’etat. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says 7,543 people have so far been detained, including 6,038 soldiers. A court also remanded 26 generals and admirals in custody on Monday.
A senior security official told Reuters that 8,000 police officers, including in the capital, Ankara, and the biggest city, Istanbul, had been removed from duty.
About 1,500 Finance Ministry officials had been suspended, a ministry official said, and CNN Turk said 30 governors and more than 50 high-ranking civil servants had been dismissed. Annual leave was suspended for more than 3 million civil servants, while close to 3,000 judges and prosecutors have been suspended.