World News

Turkish diplomats seek asylum in Switzerland: paper

ZURICH (Reuters) - Several Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports have sought political asylum in Switzerland, the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported on Wednesday, calling the move a potential test of the neutral country’s ties with Turkey.

The paper said the second-ranking Turkish diplomat in Bern and his family were among those seeking asylum after he refused to comply with a summons to return home amid a Turkish purge of people suspected of disloyalty to President Tayyip Erdogan.

Swiss Foreign Ministry officials and the Turkish embassy in Bern were not immediately available to comment on the report.

The news comes as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu plans to address compatriots in Zurich at the weekend, prompting city officials to ask the federal government to block the event for security reasons, Swiss media reported.

Cavusoglu accused Germany earlier on Wednesday of hostility toward his country and Islam, and Berlin complained of increased Turkish espionage on German soil as acrimony between the two NATO allies showed no sign of abating.

Ankara is furious over the cancellation of several rallies by Turkish ministers in Germany, while Berlin has demanded the immediate release of a Turkish-German journalist detained on terrorism charges.

Turkish ministers want to rally support among Germany’s large ethnic Turkish community for Erdogan’s bid to increase his powers in a referendum on April 16. Germany has said they can do so, provided they respect local laws, but has canceled several rallies, citing security concerns.

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Sandra Maler