At least 995 Turks seek asylum in Greece since July 15 coup attempt

Turkish authorities obtained information that 995 Turks have applied for asylum in Greece after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday, according to a report by Hurriyet daily news.

Çavuşoğlu said said Turkey is ‘disappointed’ after the Greek court ruled against extraditing eight Turkish soldiers accused of involvement in an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, during as a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias. Turkey is ‘still hopeful’ for the return of the eight soldiers despite the ‘bad experience,’ Çavuşoğlu said.

Hours after the controversial military coup, the eight soldiers, including three majors, three captains and two sergeant-majors, fled to Greece’s Alexandroupoli in a Black Hawk army helicopter. The aircraft was returned the next day but the soldiers immediately requested asylum and stayed. Greece’s Supreme Court on January 26, 2017 ruled against the extradition request by Ankara, stating that the men would not get a fair trial in Turkey and that their lives would be at risk if they returned.

Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias said the decisions on asylum seekers were made by the Greek judiciary and had to be respected. The Greek minister stressed that he and his cabinet members were among the sufferers from coups in Greece.

Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier called on foreign governments to punish the alleged members of the Gülen movement in their own countries. Only a small group of countries, among them Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Georgia, Pakistan and Myanmar, have complied with the request and extradited dozens of alleged members of the Gülen movement back to Turkey

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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