Putschist soldier held in Greece loses release appeal

Published 17.01.2018 00:00

A Greek court Tuesday rejected the appeal for the release of a Turkish soldier accused of involvement in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in Turkey. Süleyman Özkaynakçı was among eight putschist soldiers who absconded in a military helicopter to Greece after the coup attempt was quelled. He was released last month after an asylum authority approved his political asylum request, but was re-arrested when the government rejected the decision, and his request was suspended.

The First Instance Administrative Court in Athens said in its decision that Özkaynakçı illegally entered Greece, and thus posed a threat to public order and national security, adding that he was also released before the expiration of the legally maximum detention period of 18 months. The court will review his asylum request on Feb. 15.

After the July 15 coup attempt, eight soldiers - two commanders, four captains and two sergeants - escaped to Greece on a Sikorsky helicopter and landed in Alexandroupoli. Following their landing, the eight suspected FETÖ members requested asylum. Before their asylum request was taken to court, a Greek court sentenced the eight men to suspended two-month sentences for illegal entry into Greece. Ankara has formally requested their extradition.

Led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gülen, FETÖ sought to topple the Turkish government and seize power on July 15, 2016 through a coup and imposition of martial law. The attempt was prevented by soldiers loyal to the government, along with police units and millions of civilians in support of democracy. In total, 249 people, mostly civilians, were killed and over 2,000 were injured.

Last January, the Greek Supreme Court decided not to extradite the eight former officers to Turkey in a ruling the Turkish Foreign Ministry called "politically motivated."

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