Erdoğan's spokesperson accuses Greece of fake news and inhumanity

erdogan Fahrettin Altun is a Turkish politician, researcher, academic, member of the Justice and Development Party and head of media and communications in the Turkish presidency.

A spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Greece of fake news regarding the case of the 92 migrants who were stripped naked and abandoned by Turkish authorities in Evros and rescued by the Greek police.

In his post on Twitter, the communication director of the Turkish Presidency, Fahrettin Altun, personally attacked the Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, while accusing Greece of an inhumane attitude.

"The Greek fake news machine is at work again... By confusing Greece with Turkey, the Minister of Immigration and Asylum with the posts of false, incorrect content tried to show our country as suspect," said Altun.

And he goes on to argue that "the Greek authorities, cooperating with Frontex, must be held accountable for the babies drowned in the Aegean, the people who stripped them, beat them with belts and left them to die of the cold in the Evros".

In conclusion, Altun calls on Greece "to abandon its inhumane attitude towards refugees as soon as possible, to put an end to the baseless accusations against Turkey and to show seriousness".

The United Nations' refugee agency said it is "deeply distressed" by the discovery of almost 100 naked men at the border between Greece and Turkey.

Greece described Turkey's "behaviour" as a "shame for civilisation".

Greek police rescued 92 men who were discovered naked, and some with injuries, close to its northern border with Turkey on Friday.

They said an investigation by them and officials from the EU border agency Frontex, found evidence that the migrants crossed the Evros river into Greek territory in rubber dinghies from Turkey.

"Border policemen... discovered 92 illegal migrants without clothes, some of whom had injuries on their bodies," the statement said.

Greek authorities said the men were immediately given clothing, food and first aid. It was not clear how and why the men had lost their clothes.

Frontex said the men were mainly from Afghanistan and Syria, and that the organisation's fundamental rights officer had been informed of a potential rights violation.

Greek minister for civil protection, Takis Theodorikakos, accused Turkey of "instrumentalising illegal immigration" in the latest in a row over migration between the neighbours.

Speaking on Greek television he claimed that many of the migrants had told Frontex that "three Turkish army vehicles had transferred them" to the river which acts as a border between the two countries. The BBC has not been able to independently verify this claim.

"One would expect a working explanation from the Turkish government's side," Mr Theodorikakos said.

A day earlier, Mitarachi said in a tweet that Turkey's treatment of the migrants was a "shame for civilisation". He said Athens expected Ankara to investigate the incident and "protect... its border with the EU".

The UNHCR said it is "deeply distressed by the shocking reports and images", but said it had not been able to speak to the group directly yet - something which it hoped would happen in the coming days.

"We condemn any cruel and degrading treatment and call for a full investigation," the UNHCR told the BBC.

The discovery of the men comes days after a leaked report by an EU agency criticised some senior staff at Frontex for covering up illegal pushbacks of migrants by Greece to Turkey, something Athens denies. Frontex says such practices by its staff are a thing of the past.

Last month, Erdoğan used a UN address to accuse Greece of transforming the Aegean Sea into a "cemetery" and said it had "oppressive policies" on immigration.

Greece was on the frontline of a European migration crisis in 2015 and 2016, when around a million refugees fleeing war and poverty in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in the country, mainly via Turkey.

The number of arrivals has fallen since then, but Greek authorities said they had recently seen an increase in attempted arrivals through the Turkish land border and the Greek islands.

Greece has urged Turkey to respect a 2016 deal with the European Union in which Ankara agreed to contain the flow of migrants to Europe in exchange for billions of euros in aid.

Athens will soon extend a 25-mile (40-kilometre) fence along its northern border with Turkey to prevent migrants from entering the country, Mr Theodorikakos said.

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