Greek administration agrees to provide protection to two Turkish soldiers

The Greek administration agreed on Monday to provide protection for two former Turkish commandos who fled to Greece on the night of a controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Greek police spokesman Theodoros Hronopoulos told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency that the 18-month detention of ex-commandos Halit Çetin and Fatih Arık had ended last week. The pair, who used to be part of the Turkish army’s underwater offensive (SAT) operation units, then requested protection after securing their release.

Hronopoulos said the request of Çetin and Arık was accepted and that they were later dispatched to an undisclosed location. He added that their asylum process was continuing. Çetin and Arık had requested asylum in Greece after they entered the country illegally.

A few hours after the coup attempt in 2016, eight military personnel arrived in Greece on a Black Hawk helicopter and requested asylum. Turkey had immediately issued an extradition request, which was eventually declined by the Greek Supreme Court in January 2017, after a series of appeals. Turkish authorities accuse the soldiers of involvement in the failed coup and membership in the Gülen movement.

The group of eight soldiers, who have been dubbed “public enemy No 1” by the Turkish authorities, spent 18 months in detention for illegally entering Greece, and following a series of court proceedings they were granted asylum this year.

Three more of the eight Turkish soldiers were also taken under unclear circumstances. “The day [the three other soldiers] were arrested and requested political,” she said, explaining that the whereabouts of the other Turkish officers are unknown since they were moved from a military camp in Agios Andreas due to the wildfires last month.

Hronopoulos also said that Çetin and Arık’s release order came through last week but that the two men “were immediately taken to a secret location following a separate request they had made to the authorities for protection.”

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