As Turkey widened its post-coup crackdown on Thursday, suspending the European Convention on Human Rights for at least three months, sources in the Greek government said the extradition of eight Turkish military officers will be no easy matter. The officers were detained on Thursday after a court in Alexandroupoli found them guilty of illegally entering Greece.
“Everything Turkey is doing is making it more difficult to extradite the eight [officers],” a source close to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Kathimerini.
Government officials have been mostly cautious in their statements, noting that the judiciary will decide the Turkish officers’ fate.
But the announcement on Thursday Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus that Ankara would suspend the European Convention on Human Rights during a state of emergency it declared to pursue the plotters of last week’s failed coup has fuelled concerns in Athens.
SYRIZA MP Eleni Avlonitou caused a stir in Parliament when she remarked that the eight officers should be sent back to Turkey if they were involved in the failed coup.
“Greece cannot give them political asylum,” she said. Later, Avlonitou’s SYRIZA colleagues stressed that her view was personal and did not express the line of the party or the government.
Meanwhile, a court in Alexandroupoli found the eight Turkish officers, who fled to Greece last weekend aboard a helicopter following the failed coup, guilty of illegal entry into the country.
It passed down two-month sentences, which were suspended for three years. The officers, however, remained in police custody pending resolution of their asylum applications.
Ankara has demanded the extradition of the officers, insisting that they will receive a fair trial in Turkey. But the officers’ lawyers say they fear returning to Turkey amid widespread purges following the failed coup.
The eight issued a joint statement on Thursday, apologizing for the “inconvenience caused to the Greek state” but saying they had no alternative after coming under fire by Turkish police in Istanbul in the early hours of Saturday.