Top Greek court grants political refugee status to two Turkish soldiers accused of coup links
Two Turkish officers who fled to Greece following the July 2016 coup attempt were granted political refugee status on May 23 after an appeal lodged by the Greek government was rejected, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a judicial source.
The pair, who Ankara wants to extradite as “terrorists,” had been told they were allowed to stay by asylum authorities, although the Greek state contested the ruling.
They are part of a group of eight Turkish officers who arrived in neighboring Greece after the failed coup, and their fate has strained relations between Athens and Ankara.
Greece’s country’s top administrative court, the Council of State, on May 23 found in favor of the co-pilot of the helicopter which flew the men over the border, and the decision also applies to another one of the men.
The judicial source said the Greek government has launched an appeal against the second ruling - the result of which will apply to the next six officers.
According to their lawyers, the eight wish to leave the country, fearing they could be kidnapped by the Turkish services.
Greece’s Supreme Court has already ruled that the eight will not be extradited, arguing that they would not have a fair trial at home.
A further complication arose in March, when Turkish forces arrested two Greek soldiers who crossed the border whilst allegedly lost in the fog.
They have been incarcerated for the past two months. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last month floated the idea of an exchange, which was flatly rejected by his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos.