Greece remains top destination for FETÖ members

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 09.09.2019 00:23

Greece continues to allow more members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) to enter the country as it ignores Turkey's calls for international cooperation against the terrorist group.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said yesterday that around 8,000 FETÖ members crossed into Greece in the past two-and-a-half years.

Soylu pointed out that though Greece resorts to the controversial "pushback" practice against illegal migrants, no FETÖ members were forcefully returned to Turkey.

FETÖ, through its military infiltrators, carried out a putsch attempt on July 15, 2016. A strong public resistance thwarted the attempt but the coup plotters killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.

Turkey has since launched a massive clampdown on the terrorist group but some FETÖ members, including eight military officers involved in the putsch attempt, managed to flee to Greece. It is yet to extradite any FETÖ suspects to despite repeated requests from Turkey.

In an interview with CNN Türk, Soylu said Turkey made many extradition requests to European countries for people involved in a range of crimes. He added that the extradition rate was 85% in organized crime and counter-narcotics cases but this rate was only 3% for terrorism.

"We still don't have the means to issue search warrants for FETÖ members through Interpol. Extradition only works through our bilateral relations with other countries. Interpol still does not view FETÖ members as terror suspects," complained Soylu.

The minister added that Turkey this year alone has intercepted more than 254,000 illegal migrants en route to Greece.

"While we exert an all-out effort to stop them, Greece send them back or in other words, push them back. Somehow, there is not a single FETÖ member among them," he added, referring to the forced return of migrants by Greece, which catches them on the border before beating and putting them on boats back to Turkey, according to migrants.

Turkey has repeatedly accused Greece of being a haven for terrorists who committed crimes against the Turks. Athens recently angered Ankara over a string of asylum decisions and the release of terror suspects wanted by Turkey.

Most recently, it released two suspects, Halit Çetin and Fatih Arık, involved in the 2016 coup attempt. Çetin and Arık were members of an elite underwater offense commando unit of the Turkish military. They fled to Greece in 2017 after Turkey issued arrest warrants for the duo for their involvement in the coup attempt. In line with legal procedures, Çetin and Arık were taken into custody and held in a refugee camp for 18 months, a formal period for detention. They were later relocated to a secret location instead of being extradited to Turkey.

Apart from FETÖ, Greece has been criticized for harboring members of far-left terrorist groups. Last year, Greek courts ordered the release of members of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which is recognized as a terrorist group by the EU and the U.S.

The DHKP-C, who are the perpetrators of a series of crimes in Turkey including the killing of a prosecutor and the bombing of the U.S. Embassy, long enjoyed protection in Greece where its members wanted by Turkey stayed in Lavrion refugee camp, claiming persecution in Turkey.

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