Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos on Wednesday accused Turkish authorities of “playing with human lives” after it emerged that two Greek soldiers who have been in a Turkish prison since March without charge could face two years in prison.
In comments on ANT1 television channel, Tzanakopoulos accused Ankara of using the soldiers as a bargaining chip, but added that the lifting of a state of emergency following the botched coup of 2016 could bring a change of attitude in Ankara.
Athens will continue to exercise “all means of political leverage and all diplomatic and legal avenues” for the soldiers’ release, he said, adding that he did not rule out a “change of stance” from Turkish authorities.
His comments came a day after a Turkish judge rejected a fifth appeal by the soldiers for their release.
According to Skai TV, a Turkish prosecutor told the court on Tuesday that there was a “strong suspicion” that the two Greek soldiers entered a restricted military zone. In view of this, they should not be released from pre-trial custody as they could face up to two years in prison if convicted on that charge, the prosecutor said.
Judicial officials reiterated their concern that the two Greeks were a flight risk as they have no fixed address in Turkey, ignoring the Greek government’s approval of a stipend for the soldiers of the type which usually permits recipients to be regarded as permanent residents.