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Greece rejects asylum requests of FETÖ coup soldiers, extradition unlikely says former staff colonel

YUNUS PAKSOY @yunuspaksoy
ISTANBUL
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Greece has rejected the asylum requests of three soldiers linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) blamed for the failed coup attempt, Greek media outlets said yesterday.

Eight soldiers fled to Greece on the night of July 15 when they realized the coup had failed, and three soldiers whose asylum requests have been rejected are among them. The trio recently claimed that they do not share the ideology of FETÖ, arguing instead that they follow the ideology of Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and contending that they have no knowledge of the coup attempt: "We just followed orders," the soldiers said, claiming that they did not flee to Greece on purpose.

Speaking to Daily Sabah on the issue, Baki Kaya, a former staff colonel in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), assessed the credibility of the coup soldiers' claims. "They say things like, 'We would have taken the wounded or provided supplies' had they not been captured. It does not make sense," Kaya said.

A total of eight soldiers affiliated with FETÖ, including three majors, three lieutenants and two sergeant majors, fled Turkey on a Sikorsky helicopter and landed in Alexandroupolis (Dedeağaç).

Commenting on the possibility of soldiers not having knowledge of the coup attempt, Kaya said: "It is not possible that they did not know something about the coup attempt after it started." He stressed that the coup soldiers could have asked anyone that night. "They could have stopped somewhere, asked someone and said that they did not want to be involved in the coup attempt," he asserted.

They were sentenced to two months in jail by a Greek court for entering the country illegally.

The officers, who are sought by Turkey and face military trials at home, requested asylum in Greece and will remain in police custody until their cases are heard.

Turkey's request that Greece extradite the soldiers was addressed by Kaya as well, with the former staff colonel predicting that Greece is more likely not to extradite the soldiers than the other way around. "Political motives could lead Greece to not extradite the coup soldiers," he claimed.

Shortly after the coup attempt, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras telephoned President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to confirm that "whatever is necessary" would be done to ensure the extradition of the eight Turkish military officers who fled to Greece after Friday's failed coup attempt.

Tsipras said there is no room for coups in democratic countries and the Greek government stands by and respects the elected government of Turkey and the will of the Turkish people.

On July 15, a military junta loyal to FETÖ carried out a bloody coup attempt, killing more than 240 people and injuring nearly 2,200.

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