NEWS

Alert in Greece over Turkey deportations of European citizens

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Terrorism, Turkey

Greek security authorities and intelligence services are on high alert due to concerns that Turkey may try to deport European citizens suspected of being involved in Islamist terrorist networks through Greece.

These concerns were fueled after Turkey’s recent attempt to send an American citizen, Muhammad Darwish Bassam, who according to initial intelligence reports has connections to Islamist terrorists, into Greece though the Kastanies customs station in Evros, northeastern Greece.

In light of this case, Greek officials have indicated that they expect the imminent attempted expulsion from Turkey in the coming days or hours to Greece of nine Germans suspected of having links to the Islamic State terrrorist group.

Greek concerns have been heightened by the possibility that – in this case – German authorities may revoke the citizenship of the suspects, which means there is a danger they will be trapped in Greece.

An indication of these misgivings regarding the deportations from Turkey of European jihadists – not only among Greek but also European authorities – is the statement by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who called on Ankara to provide immediately credible and legally valid information about the people they plan to deport.

Bassam, who is a Jordanian American, was arrested in Turkey for “exceeding his eligibility days” (the visa granted by Turkey had expired) and Ankara tried expel him on Monday morning through the customs office in Kastanies.

At the same time, the Turkish media was flooded with reports that described him as a jihadist suspect. He allegedly asked not to be deported to the US but to a European Union member-state.

National and international databases were searched but nothing incriminating against him was found. Nonetheless, there are indications that his brother is involved with Islamist terror networks.

Speaking to Kathimerini, Greek officials had made clear that he will not be allowed to enter the country.

On Thursday, Turkey’s Interior Ministry announced that Bassam will be repatriated to the United States.

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