NICOSIA – A former Turkish naval officer who sought asylum on Cyprus after fleeing his homeland in the wake of a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly left the island.
Former Naval Captain Kadir Karaman, said to have ties to a Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in the United States that Erdogan blames for the coup plot, and his wife Nina Pozhidaeva had arrived on Cyprus on their luxury yacht on Oct. 1 seeking asylum on grounds they were being persecuted.
Erdogan has sacked scores of thousands of civil servants and military members and has mulled whether to put the death penalty on the table for the plotters.
Karaman and his wife were under police surveillance while staying on their yacht in the Larnaca marina before leaving, Agence France Presse reported.
When asked by reporters about the issue earlier this month, government spokesperson Nicos Christodoulides said he did not comment on “matters of national security,” as the government walked a delicate line over the matter.
The case of Karaman is thought to be the first time that a member of the Turkish Armed Forces has ever requested asylum on Cyprus, the legitimate government, not the northern third occupied by Turkey since an unlawful 1974 invasion.
Karaman’s identity had been revealed when he held a public phone conversation with one of sought “secret imams” of the network, as a part of an Izmir-based operation into the Gulen network.