Turkey has lodged an official request to Greece for the extradition of eight Turkish military personnel who fled to Alexandroupoli in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in the neighboring country last month.
According to Turkish news reports, the case file and the request for their extradition was sent Wednesday by the Turkish Justice Ministry to its counterpart in Athens.
The six pilots and two engineers remain in police custody in Attica, pending their asylum application. Their applications will be examined on August 19, 23, 24 and 25. A Greek court had handed each of them a suspended two-month sentence for illegally entering Greece in a military helicopter a day after the coup attempt.
Turkey wants to put them on trial on charges they violated the country’s constitution, attempted to assassinate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and participated in the coup.
All eight have denied the charges and say they fear they will be killed if they return to Turkey.
Their Greek lawyer, Stavroula Tomara, told Kathimerini Wednesday that her clients were only obeying orders from their superiors and had nothing to do with the coup.
She also insisted that it would have been impossible for the eight men to have been involved in the assassination attempt against Erdogan, as they were based 30 km northeast of Istanbul – a long distance from Marmaris, where the Turkish president was located at the time of the coup.
“It would have been impossible for their military helicopter to have flown so far,” she said, adding that she feared Turkey would use the extradition issue to push for the scrapping of the deal between Brussels and Ankara last March to stem the flow of migrants into Europe.