A Greek appeals committee has upheld an appeal by a Syrian refugee against a rejected asylum application, deeming that Turkey is an "unsafe country."
The decision could throw a recent deal between the European Union and Turkey, which foresees newly arrived migrants being returned to Turkey, into disarray if it prompts a wave of similar rulings.
The Syrian national, who arrived on the Aegean island of Lesvos from neighboring Turkey, had appealed for asylum but saw his appeal rejected and faced deportation to Turkey. However, a committee that rules on rejected asylum applications, deemed that the Syrian should not be deported as Turkey is an 'unsafe country.'
The next step is for the Syrian's asylum claim to be reexamined, a process that will likely take months.
The asylum service has examined 174 asylum applications by Syrians on the island of Lesvos. Of those, 100 were granted asylum and continued their journeys to the Greek mainland.
Those whose applications were rejected also appealed, leaving the appeals committee with dozens of cases to re-examine amid fears of the impact on the EU-Turkey deal.
In a related development, the Greek Police, in cooperation with the EU's border monitoring agency Frontex, deported 51 "irregular migrants" from Greece to Turkey. The migrants were from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria and other countries.