Turkey's interior minister urged the European Union on Monday to hold Greece accountable for its "murders" of asylum-seekers.
"Dear (European Commissioner for Home Affairs) @YlvaJohansson, Torture and inhumane treatment by Greece has now turned into murder. Won't Greece be held responsible for these murders ignored by @Frontex?" Süleyman Soylu wrote on Twitter.
Soylu shared a video showing migrants being rescued during which a migrant recounts his experiences with Greek officers.
In the video, the man describes the bad treatment he and others experienced at the hands of the officers, adding that three of the five migrants lost their lives at sea when their boat deflated.
Soylu also shared a statement by the Turkish coast guard on the incident, which said that on Dec. 19, teams were dispatched to the area to rescue the migrants who were reportedly stranded on three boats.
The statement said 31 migrants in total were rescued, and they claimed to have been beaten by Greek staff and had their valuables stolen from them.
"While they were being embarked on lifeboats in order to be left in Turkish territorial waters, five migrants fell into the sea from a punctured lifeboat," it cited migrants as saying.
"Two of the five migrants who fell into the sea were taken alive. But three of them lost their lives. The three migrants who lost their lives were taken with a separate lifeboat," it added.
Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for migrants aiming to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks and summary deportations without access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. Ankara has also accused the EU of turning a blind eye to what it says is a blatant abuse of human rights.
The latest incident took place on Monday when the Turkish coast guard rescued 26 asylum-seekers who were pushed back by Greek coastal authorities into Turkish territorial waters off the Aegean coast, a security source said on Tuesday.
A coast guard team was dispatched off the coast of Kuşadası in Aydin province on a tip-off that the asylum-seekers were stranded on a lifeboat, according to a source who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The asylum-seekers, all foreign nationals, were taken to shore, the source added.
After routine checks, the asylum-seekers were sent to the provincial migration authority.
Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people should not be expelled or returned to a country where their life or safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or membership to a social or political group.