Greece has become a top destination for the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, as more and more FETÖ members flee to the country, according to media reports.
Some members manage to reach the country while others are stopped at the border. Once in Greece, FETÖ members find assistance from Yalçın Esmek, a high-profile member of the group.
Esmek, a businessman linked to the terrorist group, serves as the group's point man for escapees in Greece and helps them travel to other European countries.
A special news team of the Turkish language daily, Sabah tracked down Esmek, who used to run a business association in Slovakia and holds Dutch citizenship.
Esmek currently serves as the FETÖ "imam" in Greece, a term used to describe top figures in charges of low-level followers. He organizes meetings of FETÖ in the offices of his food exporting company and acts discreetly to avoid surveillance.
Esmek often travels to Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France, where he meets other top members of the terrorist group and helps FETÖ members in obtaining residence permits and funding their travel expenses.
He was also involved in legal proceedings for asylum for eight putschist soldiers who fled to Greece after the 2016 coup attempt. The incident has strained relations between Turkey and Greece after Greek courts refused Turkey's extradition requests and Athens secured asylum for four of the soldiers. Esmek actively lobbies for asylum for FETÖ members and has been involved in arranging trips, asylum proceedings and travels to other European countries for some 8,000 FETÖ members so far.
FETÖ members stay in centers for asylum seekers and a Germany-based nonprofit delivered aid to them.
Greece has been a major destination for prominent figures linked to the terrorist group fleeing Turkey. Ekrem Dumanlı, editor-in-chief of FETÖ mouthpiece Zaman, as well as Cevheri Güven, a journalist involved in a plot by FETÖ to implicate a politician in a sex tape scandal, were among those who fled to Greece after investigations were launched against them in Turkey. Dumanlı is believed to be in the U.S. while Güven still resides in Thessaloniki.