Greek top court confirms asylum right for Turkish coup suspects in ruling slammed by Ankara
The Greek Council of State has rejected the government’s objection against its earlier ruling that granted right of asylum to Turkish soldiers, who were accused by Turkey of participating in the 2016 coup attempt, drawing the ire of Ankara.
The court’s decision is “against the obligations of Greece on international treaties for fight against terrorism and violates 1951 Geneva Convention Relating the Status of Refugees,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement on Aug. 22.
“Greece several times rejected the extradition of these traitors and laid the grounds for these kinds of decision that hurts the conscience of Turkish nation,” the ministry added, while calling on Greek authorities not to allow the country to be a “safe harbor for coup plotters”.
Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın also slammed the ruling as "scandalous," while calling on "all parties including the European Union to reject and condemn it."
“Judicial decisions that defend the putschists mean support for the putsch. The Greek judiciary has sided with the enemies of Turkey and putschists with this decision,” Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party spokesman Ömer Çelik said in a separate statement.
The eight former Turkish soldiers—three majors, three captains and two sergeant majors—flew to Greece by helicopter on July 16, 2016 as the coup attempt crumbled.
Ankara says the eight soldiers were members of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) that organized the failed putsch.
The Greek Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, accepted last year the asylum request of Süleyman Özkaynakçı, the co-pilot of the helicopter that was used to flee Turkey.
Despite the Greek government’s objection, the top court released Özkaynakçı on April 19.
Local media reported on Aug. 22 that Athens’ final appeal was rejected by the Council of State’s general assembly, which confirmed the ex-soldiers’ right of asylum.
Due to what the court described as lack of evidence, Özkaynakçı could now be issued a travel document with the ruling that forms a legal precedent, the reports said.
Greece repeatedly rejected Turkey’s extradition requests for the eight soldiers.