Greece expects Turkey to ask for extradition of commandos linked to coup attempt

DAILY SABAH WITH REUTERS
ISTANBUL
Published 24.02.2017 17:10
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos prepares to throw a wreath over the area of the Imia Islets in the Agean Sea from a helicopter on Feb. 2, 2017. (AFP File Photo)
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos prepares to throw a wreath over the area of the Imia Islets in the Agean Sea from a helicopter on Feb. 2, 2017. (AFP File Photo)

Greek authorities said on Friday that they were expecting Turkey to introduce an extradition request for two Turkish soldiers, who are suspected of involvement in the July 15 failed coup attempt against the democratically elected Turkish government, while also noting that Greek courts will have the final say over the issue.

Greek authorities arrested on Thursday two Turkish commandos supposedly charged by the junta, which was organized by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The two men, who appeared to be members of the military, have been held at an undisclosed location in northern Greece since they applied for asylum on February 20.

"Greece condemned the coup attempt from its inception, and from that point on it is Greek courts which will decide, based on Greek laws and international conventions, whether or not to grant the extradition of someone who seeks asylum," Greece's defense minister Panos Kammenos told Ant1 TV.

"We would expect that Turkey will submit an extradition request [for the two]...This case looks a lot more serious," a government official said, but gave no further details.

"They initially claimed to be doing different professions ... when we ascertained their identity, we realized they were members of the military," a police official told Reuters.

Eight other members of the Turkish military flew to Greece by helicopter last year in the aftermath of the failed attempt to topple President Tayyip Erdoğan's government. Greece's top court has declined to extradite them, in a case which has strained relations between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.

Ankara accused FETÖ, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gülen, for orchestrating last year's coup attempt against Turkey's democratically-elected government, which left at least 248 dead in its wake and some 2,200 others injured.

Relations between Ankara and Athens were recently strained when a top Greek court refused to extradite eight pro-coup soldiers who fled to Greece earlier this year.

Subsequently, Turkish Military Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar paid a surprise visit on January 29 to the Aegean islets of Kardak, located near Turkey's southwestern mainland coast, which are claimed by both Turkey and Greece.

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