Turkish justice minister: Greece ‘a gathering place for criminals’

Turkish justice minister: Greece ‘a gathering place for criminals’

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul has written to his Greek counterpart Stavros Kontonis saying "Greece is becoming a gathering place for criminals" following a court ruling releasing one of eight Turkish servicemen seeking asylum in Greece, Anadolu reported on Saturday.

Gul's letter came a day after Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim slammed the Council of State ruling, saying Greece was becoming a "safe haven" for Turkey's enemies. 

The ruling issued on Thursday by Greece's highest administrative court relates to Süleyman Özkaynakçı, who piloted the helicopter in which he and seven other Turkish servicemen fled to Greece in July 2016 following Turkey's failed coup. 

However it is expected to apply to all eight servicemen. 

In his comments on Friday, Yildirim said it was “unacceptable” for people who took part in the coup attempt in the summer of 2016 to be protected by Greece.

“Unfortunately, recently, criminals of the FETO organization have started seeing Greece as a safe haven,” he said, referring to what Ankara describes as a terrorist group led by exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

“I hope they will extradite the members of this organization,” he said, adding that Turkish authorities “do not desire a negative impact on Greek-Turkish relations because of members of the FETO organization.”

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