Greece moves to axe coup asylum bid
Seven of them applied for asylum and were rejected but were kept in preventive custody.
Hours earlier, a Greek administrative committee ruled in favour of their pilot’s appeal against his earlier asylum application.
The Greek government now said it has asked the judicial authorities to cancel the legal decision granting asylum to the helicopter pilot.
The committee’s ruling angered Turkey, which has repeatedly called for their extradition, accusing them of involvement in the coup.
A Greek asylum committee ruled that there was no evidence that the co-pilot who flew seven fellow soldiers to Greece the day after the coup attempt was involved in the putsch.
The committee said the pilot could not expect a fair trial in Turkey
Turkey’s foreign ministry called the decision politically motivated and warned that it would harm bilateral relations.
Greek courts have blocked two extradition requests by Turkey, highlighting tensions between the Nato allies, who remain at odds over various issues, most notably Cyprus.
“Greece failed to show the support and cooperation we expect from an ally in the fight against terrorism by preventing criminals who took part in killing hundreds of Turkish people and targeting the democratic order,” a ministry statement said in Turkish.
The two nations almost came to blows in 1974, 1987 and 1996 amid ongoing disputes over ethnically divided Cyprus, mineral rights in the Aegean Sea and sovereignty over uninhabited Aegean atolls.
Later yesterday (Saturday), Athens said it had filed an appeal against the decision by the administrative committee for asylum requests.
The authorities said the move was in line with “its standing position regarding the eight soldiers, as it has been repeatedly and publicly expressed”.
Greece’s administrative court of appeal will now examine the case.
Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras previously said the government did not support coup plotters. Saturday’s decision was taken by an administrative committee, not a judicial body. It included a representative of the UN’s refugee agency, according to Stavroula Tomara, one of the soldiers’ lawyers.
Since the failed coup, Turkey has jailed around 50,000 people pending trial while more than 150,000 have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the military, public and private sectors.
Pro-government protesters in Istanbul during the July 2016 coup. Picture credit: Wikimedia