Freed Turkish Coup Suspect Goes into Hiding



    Turkish soldiers in Greek custody (archive)

    One of the eight former Turkish servicemen who claimed asylum in Greece after Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt has been transferred from custody to a secret location.

    The Council of State — Greece’s highest administrative court — earlier this month ruled that the man should be freed from detention, a decision likely to be replicated for the seven remaining detainees who are still sought by Ankara.

    The head of Greece’s Aliens’ Bureau signed off on the man’s release late on Wednesday night.

    The former officer is barred from leaving Greece and will stay at an clandestine location amid tight security. His asylum application is ongoing.

    Recently, Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis predicted all the Turkish men would be released in May.

    The eight have also reached the maximum detention of 18 months prior to a trial.

    Kontonis said that Turkey has not requested their trial in Greece, therefore, “following the expiration of 18 months, which is coming up in May, there is no provision of extending their detention”.

    The case has had international implications for Greece-Turkey relations, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in late March appearing to link the fate of the two Greek soldiers being held in Edirne with that of the eight detainees in Greece.

    On his return from an EU-Turkey summit in Varna, Erdogan claimed he told EU representatives that “it is not fair to be concerned only by the Greek soldiers and not be concerned about the Turkish soldiers”.

    Erdogan’s position appeared to contradict earlier statements by his own foreign minister, who had denied any link between the two cases.

    In March, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in an interview with German outlet Zeit Online, was asked about the eight Turkish ex-servicemen in relation to the Greek soldiers in Edirne:

    “No, we do not want such a bargain. Moreover, we have captured the Greek soldiers on Turkish territory and not Greek. As for the pilots, we have asked Greece for their extradition some time ago.”

    Nevertheless, Ankara has also been infuriated by Greek court rulings which turned down extradition requests for Turkish far-left activists charged with terrorism offences.