EU hopes for positive outcome in case of Greek soldiers arrested in Turkey

The European Commission said on Tuesday that it hoped for a positive outcome in the case of two Greek soldiers arrested in Turkey last week, with a commission spokesman telling a news conference, “We hope for a swift and positive outcome of this issue, in the spirit of good neighborly relations.”

 A Turkish court on Friday remanded in custody two Greek soldiers who were detained after crossing the border into Turkey in bad weather in a heavily forested frontier region, Turkish media said, despite Greek calls for their swift return.

Meanwhile, a Greek court also on Tuesday rejected a request by Ankara for the extradition of a man wanted over links to a banned militant group blamed for suicide bombings in Turkey, court officials said.

Naci Özpolat, 48, a Turkish national of Kurdish origin, was one of nine people detained by Greece’s counterterrorism service in November, weeks before autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Greece in December. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Turkey wants three of them extradited over alleged links to a far-left group blamed for attacks and suicide bombings there since 1990. However, Özpolat told the court on Tuesday that Ankara accuses him of involvement in acts that occurred in Turkey while he was in custody in Germany and that it wants him back because he is a “revolutionary,” a court official said.

According to a report by Reuters, following the ruling, he was transferred back to a Greek prison where he is being held pending trial on domestic charges including possession of firearms. Greece has charged the nine detainees with setting up and belonging to a criminal organization, terrorist-related acts of supplying explosive materials and with illegal possession of firearms, smoke bombs and firecrackers.

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