Turkey has slammed the decision of the Greek justice minister to block a far-left terrorist's extradition to Turkey despite a court ruling clearing the process in early June.
In a statement released on Sunday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Alkoy said minister Stavros Kontonis' decision "reveals once again that the traditional sentiments of the Greek political power against Turkey have not changed."
Kontonis, who has the power to reject a court's extradition ruling, opted to stick with earlier decisions by Greek authorities on the case of Turgut Kaya, a member of Turkish Communist Party / Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML) terrorist group. Kaya is on the Interior Ministry's list of most wanted terrorists, and Turkey had previously issued an Interpol arrest warrant for him.
The statement accused Greece of "granting asylum to criminals wanted by Turkey and ignoring the court judgments regarding their extradition," and voiced Ankara's expectations that Athens respect neighborly relations and embrace the contemporary law.
Greek courts and authorities insistently reject Turkey's extradition requests despite clear evidence on crimes and violent attacks. Tensions between Turkey and Greece have run high lately due to the latter's decision to give asylum to pro-coup soldiers who took part in the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt and hijacked a military helicopter to flee the country.
Greece rejected the extradition of six out of eight suspects linked to Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), another far-left terrorist group, so far this year. Eight suspects were arrested in Athens in 2017, while allegedly planning to carry out attacks targeting visiting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. DHKP-C and other far-left terrorist groups have long found a safe haven in Greece where they were settled in a refugee camp, claiming they faced political persecution in Turkey.
In 2016, Greece started granting the same treatment to members of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). They refused the extradition of eight FETÖ soldiers who took part in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and even granted asylum to some of them.