Greece grants asylum to Turkish military officer allegedly involved in coup attempt

Greek authorities accepted Saturday the asylum request of one of the eight Turkish military officers who were allegedly involved in a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 in Turkey. The military officers fled Turkey after the coup attempt has failed.

Süleyman Özkaynakçı, who was the co-pilot of a helicopter during the espace, was reportedly released with a ruling of the 3rd Independent Secondary Asylum Committee, while the remaining seven are still under custody. Greece previously rejected several times Turkey’s extradition requests for the alleged putschist soldiers.

After the July 15 coup attempt, eight soldiers, including two commanders, four captains and two sergeants, escaped to Greece on a Sikorsky helicopter and landed in Alexandroupolis. Following their landing, the eight military officers 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 these military officers to face trial in 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 President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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