Ahmet Güzel, a military officer involved in 2016 coup attempt in Turkey was secretly released from detention after his asylum request was approved by Greece despite objections from Ankara. The Kathimerini newspaper reported that Güzel, who was granted asylum last Tuesday, left the police station where he was held on Thursday under tight security measures. Earlier reports in the case shrouded in secrecy did not reveal the name of the officer. He was accommodated in a house with Süleyman Özkaynakçı, another putschist officer wanted by Turkey but released under judiciary control. Özkaynakçı was the first among eight soldiers whose asylum request was approved by Greece, although it was later cancelled. The Greek government has also rejected the asylum request of Güzel.
The issue of the eight soldiers who fled Turkey by hijacking a military helicopter has been a source of contention between the two countries. Ankara urged Athens not to harbor putschists involved in July 15, 2016 coup attempt blamed on military infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Greece's persistence on not extraditing the putschists and even releasing them is consistent with its image as a safe haven for terror suspects fleeing Turkey, a country that has tried to overcome a past filled with hostilities. "Greece is our neighbor and friend. We believe Greece should see our enemy as their enemy as well and act accordingly. It is unacceptable to protect and embrace FETÖ members that actively took part in the coup. FETÖ criminals nowadays see Greece as a safe haven and this damages our neighborly ties and friendship. I hope they will extradite them. We do not desire FETÖ members to affect our relations," Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has told reporters after Özkaynakçı's release. The cases of putschist soldiers are now in the hands of Greece's Council of State. Although objections to asylum requests can be upheld, the soldiers are expected to be released anyway due to the expiration of their detention period.
The officers are wanted in connection with their role in the coup attempt's Istanbul leg. When the coup attempt failed, they fled the headquarters of the 66th Mechanized Infantry Brigade in the city where they were deployed. The military base served as the meeting place for a group of putschist officers who are accused of gathering there two days before the attempt to discuss the details of the plot. Four people, including Col. Sait Ertürk, were killed at the same base in a clash with pro-coup troops.
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