Turkey requests return of eight officers who fled to Greece

TAGS: Diplomacy

Turkey has made a formal request to Greece for the extradition of eight Turkish officers who fled to the neighboring country after last month's attempted coup, the state-run news agency reported Tuesday.

A Justice Ministry file had been delivered to Greece requesting the officers' return over charges that include breaching the Constitution through the use of force, plotting to kill the president and crimes against the parliament and government, the Anadolu Agency reported.

The six pilots and two engineers fled to Greece aboard a military helicopter after the July 15 attempt. Turkey wants them returned to stand trial on charges of participating in the violent attempt by renegade officers within the Turkish military that resulted in at least 270 deaths. Parliament was bombed, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan escaped an attack on his hotel at a seaside resort during the foiled coup.

The eight deny involvement in the coup and have applied for asylum, saying they fear for their safety amid widespread purges in the aftermath of the attempted overthrow of the government.

The government says the coup was the work of followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen's religious movement, who allegedly have infiltrated the military over the years. The government declared a state of emergency and launched a massive crackdown on Gulen's supporters in the aftermath of the coup.

Some 35,000 people have been detained for questioning and more than 17,000 of them have been formally arrested to face trial, including soldiers, police, judges and journalists. Tens of thousands more people with suspected links to Gulen have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the judiciary, media, education, health care, military and local government.

On Tuesday, police in Istanbul launched simultaneous raids on 44 companies suspected of providing financial support to Gulen's movement while authorities issued warrants to detain 120 company executives, Anadolu reported. The private Dogan news agency said the companies searched included a supermarket chain. [AP]