Greek soldiers nabbed on Turkish border arrested on espionage charges


A court in Edirne ordered the arrest of two Greek soldiers who the Greek army claimed "accidentally" crossed into the Turkish side of the border. Turkish prosecutors had earlier asked for their arrest for military espionage and trespassing into a forbidden military zone. The court also ordered an investigation of "digital data" found in possession of the soldiers.

Lt. Aggelos Mitredotis and non-commissioned officer Dimitros Kouklatzis, were detained by Turkish troops patrolling the border late Thursday.

The Greek army earlier issued a statement that the duo was deployed on the border and lost their way in adverse weather and crossed to the other side of the border by mistake.

Most of the Greek-Turkish border is marked by the Maritsa River, and a fence runs along much of the land section. Some parts, however, aren't clearly marked, and the area where the soldiers strayed was reportedly in woodlands near the town of Kastanies.

The border is tightly monitored by both parties due to the massive refugee influx into Europe since 2015, along with terror threats.

Greece and Turkey had improved their ties after a presidential visit to Athens last year but hostilities re-emerged recently. Greece was accused of provocation by Turkey when its ships violated Turkey's territorial waters near unmarked islands in the Aegean Sea, and Ankara has been critical of Athens after Greek courts rejected extradition of putschist soldiers involved in the 2016 coup bid in Turkey.

The two countries are also at odds on the Cyprus question and issues related to the Muslim-Turkish and Greek Orthodox minorities in both countries.

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