Greek authorities have arrested two Turkish soldiers suspected of involvement in a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's democratically elected government last year, government officials in Athens said on Thursday.
One of the officials told Reuters that the two men had requested political asylum. A second government official said they were wanted by Turkey on suspicion of being members of an elite commando unit tasked with assassinating Erdoğan.
"They surrendered (to police) with their lawyer," the second government official said. Both men, who were not identified, were being held on suspicion of illegal entry after crossing into northern Greece early last week. Greece's citizen protection ministry was not immediately available for comment.
Whereas Athens-based Ethnos newspaper also claimed that the two pro-coup commandos, with initials F.A. and H.Ç, were a part of Erdoğan's assassination team. Accordingly, the two men crossed the Meriç River into Greece on Feb. 15. The capture of their Algerian trafficker also led to the capture of the two men, who applied to a police station in the town of Orestiada seeking political asylum.
Last year, eight members of the Turkish military flew to neighbouring Greece by helicopter in the aftermath of the failed July 15 coup. They requested asylum, in a case which has strained relations between the two NATO allies.
Greece and Turkey are at odds over territorial disputes and ethnically split Cyprus and almost went to war in 1996 in a dispute over uninhabited islets in the Aegean Sea known as Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish.
Both nations play an important role in the handling of Europe's worst migration crisis for decades and the EU depends on Ankara to stem mass migration to Europe under the terms of a deal struck last March.