Turkish border troops detain 3 people as they try to flee to Greece from persecution

Turkish border troops have detained 3 people who were attempting to flee to Greece from the persecution of Turkish government in northwestern Edirne province on Sunday.

It was reported that 2 of the detainees are dismissed academics, M.A. who used to work for Yıldız Technical University and A.C.E. who used to work for İzmir’s Dokuz Eylül University. The third detained person was said to be a teacher who used to work at a university prep school which was closed down by the government over affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry has criticized the decision of a Greek committee to grant asylum to one of the eight alleged coup plotters who fled to Greece after taking part in last year’s controversial military coup in Turkey.

In a written statement released on Saturday, the ministry said: “Greece, who granted asylum to one of the eight coup plotters who participated in the July 15 coup bid, has once again revealed through this decision that it is a country that protects and embraces plotters.”

It also criticized Greece for not supporting or cooperating with Turkey as one would expect from an ally in the fight against terrorism and crimes. “This decision, which we consider as a political motive, will undoubtedly have effects on our bilateral relations with Greece and our joint regional efforts,” the statement also read.

According to a ruling by the third Independent Secondary Asylum Committee, Süleyman Özkaynakçı, the co-pilot of the helicopter that was used to flee Turkey, had been granted asylum on the basis that there was allegedly no proof that he participated in the coup bid.

The other former Turkish servicemen have not been granted asylum and are currently being held by Greek authorities until the committee makes a ruling regarding them.

Greece dismissed Turkish anger on Sunday over its decision to grant asylum to a soldier. “Our faith in democratic principles and practices is not a weakness, but a source of strength,” the Greek foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

“Democracies do not threaten, or can be threatened,” the Greek foreign ministry said and added that “On the contrary, they work responsibly and methodically to promote understanding and entrench stability and good neighbourly relations. Greece will continue this path …and hopes its neighbours will do the same.”

The alleged coup plotters had arrived in Alexandroupolis, Greece, aboard a military helicopter hours after the failed coup in July 15, 2016. Turkish Justice Ministry has since sent several extradition requests for the former officers.

The Greek government said on Saturday that it had filed a request for the cancelation of the asylum granted to a Turkish soldier accused of involvement in last year’s coup attempt.

On Jan. 26, 2017, the Greek Supreme Court decided not to extradite the officers to Turkey. Turkish Foreign Ministry had called the decision “politically motivated.” The issue was also discussed when Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made an official visit to Greece on Dec. 7, 2017.

Meanwhile, in southern Adana province, three more people were detained as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

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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