BERLIN, Dec 10 – Eleven Turkish nationals in a martial arts group have applied for asylum in Germany after police determined they had not come to take part in a karate tournament as they said, a police spokesman said on Saturday.
The group numbered 14 on arrival at Duesseldorf airport on a flight from Istanbul on Friday, but police determined during checks that they were not going to a tournament and suspected one of their number was a people smuggler.
“Two voluntarily flew back to Turkey,” a spokesman for the federal police said, adding that the suspected smuggler, who was Turkish, had been detained by police.
The remaining 11, compromising 10 adults and one child, had been taken to a reception centre for asylum seekers. The police spokesman could not say on what grounds they sought asylum.
In October, Germany’s Interior Ministry said 35 Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports had applied for asylum after a failed military coup in Turkey in July that was followed by a crackdown on suspected supporters of the putsch.
German-Turkish relations have been strained over a series of issues, including Berlin’s criticism of mass arrests in Turkey and Ankara’s treatment of the media, and charges by Turkey that Germany is a safe haven for the Kurdish militant PKK group.