OSLO, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Four Turkish officers and one Turkish military attache have been granted asylum in Norway after they sought protection following the failed coup attempt in Turkey last summer, newspaper Klassekampen reported Wednesday.
A number of Turkish officers have sought asylum in Western countries since the failed coup in Turkey on July 15 last year. In January it was made public that four officers and a military attache had sought protection in Norway.
The officers' lawyer Kjell M. Brygfjeld has confirmed to Klassekampen that all five had been granted asylum.
The decision "is startling" because Turkey is a NATO country, which means that Norway now protects the officers from their own homeland, also a military ally of Norway, Klassekampen wrote.
Relations between Turkey and the European Union (EU) have soured recently after EU members, including the Netherlands and Germany, stopped Turkish politicians from holding rallies on their soil out of fears of tensions among Turkish communities.
If more countries follow Norway's example and provide asylum to former officers who have defected, it could be even worse, the newspaper said.
In January the four officers told Norwegian newspaper VG that they had lost their jobs the previous autumn and had been told to go back to Turkey. They have refused and have chosen to seek asylum in Norway instead.
The four ex-officers and former diplomat now live at a secret address in Norway. Their family members have also received asylum in Norway, according to the newspaper.
"Mine and my family's passports are no longer valid. My saved pension is zeroed out and the new exception after the coup gives the authorities the right to cancel our Turkish citizenship if I do not go home," one of the officers told VG.
A total of 136 Turks with diplomatic passports have also sought refuge in Germany after the coup attempt.
Ankara believes the coup attempt was masterminded by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in the United States, and has been pushing for his extradition.
Many of the officers who were imprisoned in Turkey after the coup attempt have been accused of having links to this movement.