Greece grants asylum to one more ex-Turkish soldier

Greece grants asylum to one more ex-Turkish soldier

ATHENS - Anadolu Agency
Greece grants asylum to one more ex-Turkish soldier

Uğur Uçan

Defying Turkey’s expectations of its neighbor, Greece has granted asylum to yet another ex-Turkish soldier suspected of involvement in the July 2016 coup attempt. 

A Greek asylum committee on July 5 decided to grant asylum to Uğur Uçan, one of eight former Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece just after coup attempt.

Uçan became the third ex-soldier to have been provided asylum after the Greek Council of State also granted asylum to former soldiers Süleyman Özkaynakçı and Ahmet Güzel in May.

Turkey has complained that in granting asylum, and denying its extradition requests, Greece is effectively “protecting terrorists.”

Meanwhile, the eight ex-soldiers - who were released from prison after their 18-month detention period expired - are now being kept in a house outside of Athens, according to local media.

A few hours after the July 2016 coup attempt, the eight ex-military personnel arrived in Greece on a hijacked Black Hawk helicopter and requested asylum.

Turkey immediately issued an extradition request, which was eventually declined by the Greek Supreme Court in January 2017, after a series of trials and appeals.

The Greek Asylum Commission’s granting of asylum to the second Turkish coup suspect asylum was a “grave situation,” Turkish Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın had said on May 9, a day after the commission’s ruling.

Kalın said that although Greece has repeatedly said it was against the coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016 its actions “unfortunately do not reflect this.”

“We are awaiting concrete steps at this point … But whatever their approach, Turkey’s struggle against FETÖ will continue,” he added.

The case has been a bone of contention between the two countries, discussed during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s official visit to Greece last year.

The soldiers are accused by Turkish authorities of involvement in the coup as members of the network of U.S-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. Gülen is a former close ally of the Turkish government but the authorities now refer to his network as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

FETÖ is widely believed to have orchestrated the coup attempt, which left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.