Greek security services averted a plan to install in Greece supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the exiled Turkish cleric accused by Ankara of orchestrating the failed coup in 2016, according to information obtained exclusively by Kathimerini.
According to that information, those supporters of Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US, had planned to set up accommodation in Greece to host members of the cleric’s movement who have fled Turkey.
On Monday, three US nationals of Turkish origin, believed to have had a leading role in this plan were stopped at Athens International Airport.
The three had arrived on a commercial flight from the US but, following an inspection by authorities at the airport, were obliged to return for reasons of national security. Due to the sensitivity of the case, it was handled with great secrecy by a small team of government officials.
The three suspects had presented themselves as members of non-government organizations and real estate investors, Kathimerini understands. They claimed to be interested in buying property in Greece either to host migrants or as part of a broader investment plan.
However, Greek police officers who questioned them deemed that they had other intentions: to locate facilities for hosting supporters of Gulen, particularly in the broader Athens area.
They were obliged to return to the US on Tuesday, aboard an Emirates flight to New York.
Following the failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, more than 2,000 Turks, most of them supporters of Gulen, have sought asylum in Greece.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described Gulen as the mastermind behind that coup and has repeatedly sought his extradition from the US. Early this year, Erdogan threatened to stop cooperating with the US on matters relating to international terrorism unless it handed over Gulen.
In view of those developments, Greek government officials warn that the creation of a network of Gulenists on Greek soil would pose a threat to national security at a time of rising tensions between Greece and Turkey.