All eight Turkish servicemen seeking asylum in Greece are released

Turkish servicemen

turkish servicemen 

by Aggelos Skordas

All eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece seeking asylum following the July 2016 failed coup attempt in their homeland were released from custody last week, their lawyer Omiros Zelios announced on Monday. Four of them were freed earlier on May, while the remaining four were released within the previous week, although the exact date of their release has not been specified. According to Greek law, the maximum detention period is 18 months, which ended in the end of May.

They now reside in secret locations under strong police protection due to fears for their safety. Ankara has been pressuring Athens to send the servicemen back in order to face trial as members of the Gulen movement, which has been accused by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of organising the coup attempt.

Despite Turkey’s repeated pleas to extradite the eight servicemen, Greece’s Supreme Court rejected an objection lodged by the Greek government on a decision to grant asylum to one of the ex-soldiers in December 2017, arguing that he would not be subjected to a fair trial in his country. The remaining seven Turkish servicemen, who fled to Greece with an army Black Hawk helicopter hours after the coup attempt, are still awaiting decisions to be reached on their asylum applications, while all of them have requested travel documents in order to leave Greece for countries of their choice once their applications are approved.

“By granting asylum to one of eight coup plotters involved in the July 15 coup, Greece has once again showed that it is a country that protects and embraces coup plotters with this decision”, an official statement issued by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry following the Greek asylum committee’s decision while various Turkish officials accused Athens of providing shelter to “coup plotters”.

Nearly 250 people died and some 2,200 were injured during the coup attempt carried out by a faction of the Turkish Army in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and other major cities on the 15th of July 2016. Erdogan’s government has since led a crackdown on alleged “coup plotters” and “supporters” of US-based imam Fetullah Gulen, with the dismissal of more than 150,000 public workers, state officials, army officers, academics and other state employees while more than 50,000 people have been arrested accused as “traitors” and “terrorists.”

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.