Gülenists see Greece as a ‘safe haven,’ says Turkish PM Yıldırım
Followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen have started seeing Greece as a “safe haven,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on April 20, after a Greek high court’s decision to release a former Turkish soldier from custody.
Greece “protects [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] FETÖ members who actively participated in the [July 2016 military] coup attempt,” Yıldırım told reporters.
“What Greece has been doing is harming our friendship,” he added.
Earlier in the day the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the Greek court’s recent decision to release Süleyman Özkaynakçı, who sought asylum in Greece, “demonstrates once again that Greece protects coup plotters.”
On April 19, the Greek Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, ordered the release of Özkaynakçı under judicial control.
Despite the condition of judicial control, the court decision showed that necessary measures had not been taken regarding a “traitor” who took part in the coup attempt, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on April 20.
“In addition, the Greek authorities are making statements that other coup plotters will be released in the coming days. This cannot be explained as a simple application of the length of detention, as the Greek authorities claim,” said the statement.
Eight former Turkish servicemen had fled to Greece a day after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Özkaynakçı’s asylum request had been accepted in December 2017 by an independent asylum commission, but the Greek government later raised an objection to it.
He was released briefly after being granted asylum but was arrested again after the government raised the objection over the asylum.
The Greek Council of State evaluated the government’s objection and ordered his release under strict control until the results of asylum applications of all eight suspected coup plotters emerge.
The Council of State is expected to make a final decision over the asylum requests of all the eight ex-Turkish soldiers on May 4.