Nine people jailed before Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Greece in 2017, accused of belonging to a militant group, were cleared of terrorism and criminal arms charges in Athens on Wednesday.
Defense lawyer Aleca Zorbala said that the Greek court acquitted three of the defendants of all charges and the other six received sentences of two years and seven months in prison for misdemeanor weapons possession and forged documents.
All nine were in jail since November 2017.
The arrests followed a major anti-terrorism police operation days before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Greece.
They were charged with belonging to the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
Zorbala said her clients’ arrests were linked with the Turkish leader’s visit.
“The timing was not at all a coincidence,” she said. “(Greek authorities) wanted to show Erdogan that people he considers to be terrorists face arrest here and that he would be safe in Greece.”
The defendants are of Kurdish, Turkish or Arab origin, with six recognized as political refugees.
*Source: Associated Press