Turkey to Deport Greeks who volunteered for earthquake relief work

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Turkey will deport three Greeks who came to earthquake-stricken Hatay province as volunteers, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Friday.

Police briefly detained the volunteers in the Defne district in Hatay and took them to the immigration office in Adana, Mezopotamya said, identifying them as Panagiotis Masouras, Alexandros Bazoras and Mihalis Panagiotopoulos.

Police detained the volunteers after receiving a tip-off, local media said.

The Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) said on Twitter that it was following the case and that the police had said the Greeks were not in custody.

“According to the police, the three Greek citizens were not in custody but were there for administrative reasons. However, not only were they not released, but we also learned that [police] confiscated their phones and tried to inspect them,” the ÇHD tweeted.

Calling the police behavior a “de facto” detention, the ÇHD said the individuals entered the country after following visa and passport procedures and could not be arbitrarily detained.

The ÇHD informed the Greek consulate when it learned of the planned deportation, for which the police gave no reason.

The 7.8-magnitude quake that struck near the city of Gaziantep on Feb. 6 as people slept has claimed the lives of 38,044 people across 10 southeastern provinces hardest hit by the disaster, according to the latest official figures. It was followed by thousands of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that struck the region later the same day.