A court in Greece denied Friday Turkey's extradition request for a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) terrorist group who was arrested in Nov. 2017 along with other militants ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to the country.
Greece's insistence on not extraditing terror suspects in other cases has angered Ankara in the past. Last January, the Greek Supreme Court decided not to extradite eight former military officers linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) who were involved in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 249 people in Turkey. Turkey has branded it as a politically motivated verdict.
In Friday's hearing, the prosecutor asked the court to deny the extradition request for DHKP-C militant Mehmet Doğan, claiming that his life could be threatened in Turkey. The prosecutor added that Doğan was previously granted asylum by France.
The judges of the Athens Appeals Court ruled to deny Turkey's extradition request for Doğan.
In simultaneous raids in Athens, Greek police detained Doğan and eight other DHKP-C suspects on Nov. 28, ahead of Erdoğan's visit on Dec. 7.
Other suspects were identified as Hasan Biber, Burak Ağarmış, Ali Gökoğlu, Hazal Seçer, Şadi Naci Özpolat, Anıl Sayar and İsmail Zat. One suspect was identified either as Ergül Acer or Halil Demir. Forged passports and IDs were found in the suspects' possession during the raid. Police has also found bomb-making materials and guns.
Greek media outlets claimed that the group was plotting to attack Erdoğan during the visit.
Turkey also demands Greece to extradite Özpolat and Seçer. Özpolat's hearing is set for Feb. 6.
Biber is known as the perpetrator of non-lethal rocket attacks targeting the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headquarters, the Turkish National Police headquarters and a Justice Ministry building in Ankara in 2013.
Greece has long been one of the countries in which the DHKP-C has been very active, and the terror group currently operates a camp disguised as a refugee camp, located in the town of Lavrion, 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of Athens. However, in recent years, the cooperation between the two countries have increased. In 2014, four Turkish men were arrested in Athens on terrorism-related offenses in connection with the DHKP-C, after a raid on an Athens apartment uncovered weapons, explosives and detonators. The operation followed the arrests of five Turks and three Greeks over a speedboat carrying arms that was intercepted in the Aegean Sea.
The move was seen as an improvement to the counter-terrorism cooperation between Turkey and Greece, although the refusal of Greek courts to extradite several suspects have overshadowed the efforts.
The DHKP-C, although less influential in Turkey than other terrorist organizations such as the PKK, still represents a considerable threat to the country's security, especially after a recent string of attacks.
The group is an offshoot of a Marxist-Leninist movement that was established in the 1970s. It was founded in the 1990s after it splintered off from a larger group of far-left organizations responsible for a string of attacks that include the assassination of two politicians in 1980, several intelligence officials and Özdemir Sabancı, a member of the Sabancı family, one of the richest families in Turkey owning a large conglomerate of companies.
In addition to attacks against Turkish security forces, the DHKP-C is also responsible for the suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in the capital Ankara that killed a Turkish security guard and injured a journalist in February 2013.
The DHKP-C was also responsible for the killing of Mehmet Selim Kiraz, a prosecutor who was investigating the possible negligence of police in the death of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan during Gezi Park riots. Kiraz was killed in his room at an Istanbul courthouse on March 31, 2015 after two militants took him hostage for several hours.