A high-ranking Turkish military officer has reportedly claimed asylum in the United States after authorities in Turkey linked him to the failed coup.

Mustafa Ugurlu had been on a posting to a NATO base in Virginia at the time of the 15 July botched coup.

Turkey has purged its military ranks of some 100 generals accused of being part of a shadowy movement that follows a US-based Turkish preacher.

Rear Adm Ugurlu disappeared on 22 July, a week after the coup.

US officials told Reuters news agency that an unnamed Rear Admiral was seeking asylum, and he was later named by Anadolu Agency as Mustafa Ugurlu.

Military espionage case

It comes at a difficult moment in relations between the two Nato allies as Turkey is seeking the extradition from the US of the cleric accused of masterminding the coup, Fethullah Gulen. He denies involvement.

Two US officials told Reuters the Rear Admiral had been working at Nato’s Allied Command Transformation headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, where 26 Turkish military personnel are posted.

In April he took part in a Nato conference in Poland and was identified as the Western military alliance’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Command and Control, Deployability, and Sustainability based in Norfolk.