The Greek government was both defiant and understanding after Turkey slammed the release of a suspect involved in the deadly coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Süleyman Özkaynakçı, one of the eight pro-coup troops who fled to Greece by hijacking a military helicopter, was released Saturday after he was granted political asylum.
Turkish Foreign Minister Melvüt Çavişoğlu said in a statement Saturday that Greece "once again revealed that it was a country that protects and embraces plotters." "This decision, which we consider as a political motive, will undoubtedly have effects on our bilateral relations with Greece and our joint regional efforts," the statement also read.
The Greek Prime Ministry announced that it had applied for an invalidation of the Asylum Appeals Authority to grant asylum to Özkaynakçı. However, a statement by the Greek Foreign Ministry Sunday said "democracies cannot be threatened."
After the July 15 coup attempt by infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in the military, eight soldiers, including two commanders, four captains and two sergeants, escaped to Greece in a Sikorsky helicopter and landed in Alexandroupolis. Following their landing, the eight suspected FETÖ members asked for asylum from Greek authorities. Before their asylum request was taken to the court, a Greek court sentenced the eight men to a suspended two-month jail sentence for illegal entry into Greece. Ankara has formally requested from Greece the extradition of the FETÖ members, who were allegedly behind the coup attempt, to face trial in Turkey.
The release of Özkaynakçı comes a few weeks after a landmark visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Greece where Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras assured Turkey that the coup plotters would not be welcome in the country. Greece is among the favorite destinations of FETÖ suspects facing jail in Turkey and since the coup attempt, dozens have been captured en route to the country that shares a maritime border with Turkey.