During the height of last night’s military coup attempt in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought and was refused asylum in Germany by Chancellor Merkel, according to US military sources.
American news reports that President Erdogan’s private jet asked permission to land in Germany and was refused.
According to flight data the private government jet was circling in remote Turkish airspace while the president was making a plea to the public for support in crushing the coup.
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NBC News cited unnamed sources claiming that Erdogan had apparently been planning to contact the UK next about possible asylum before a military uprising against his government fizzled out and he was able to return to Istanbul.
It is possible that the autocratic leader made the reported requests from his private jet as it circled above a remote area of Turkey, whilst gun battles raged between troops and police below.
According to NBC News, quoting unnamed US military sources, Erdogan desperately tried to seek asylum in Europe after anti-government troops took over Istanbul airport and prevented him from landing there. The claims cannot be verified and have been treated with skepticism in some quarters.
However, sources in Turkey have indicated that Erdogan had become increasingly paranoid about the possibility of a coup in recent months and had drawn up detailed plans for his escape from the country in such an eventuality.
As such, if accurate the reports could shed light on the controversial leader’s exit plan in the event that the military managed to successfully take over control and oust his government.
— AIRLIVE (@airlivenet) July 15, 2016
The news network reported that his first port of call was Germany, where he was denied asylum, and that he had been planning to head to Britain next before the coup on the ground began to disintegrate.
Midway through the insurrection the Turkish leader gave a bizarre interview on his mobile phone via FaceTime in which he appeared to be speaking from a curtained room – which could have been on board his personal jet.
The interview, during which he declared “I am president” and urged people to take to the streets and fight the military, is being credited with saving his political career and bringing down the plotters.
Flight path data for a Turkish government plane frequently used by the president, which he is believed to have been on last night, shows how it circled for 40 minutes above a remote area of Turkey before touching down in Istanbul.
Turkish Airlines flight 8456 – a Gulfstream Aerospace G5X private jet used by the government – took off from outside the southern seaside resort of Bodrum, where Erdogan had been on holiday at around 11pm.
It flew northwards but then stopped over the remote northwest corner of Turkey at around 00.20am, circling over and over again as the situation on the ground unfolded before carrying on towards Istanbul at 1am.
He touched down in Turkey’s biggest city 20 minutes later and emerged from the jet to deliver a triumphant victory speech, declaring that the coup was over and vowing to purge the military of plotters.
He said: ”They will pay a heavy price for this. This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”
Rumours were rife on social media about where Mr Erdogan was overnight, with mounting speculation that he had fled the country as the coup unfolded.
The attempted takeover, by around 2,500 soldiers from the Turkish military, led to the deaths of 265 people and left nearly 1,500 injured.
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