Turkish court rejects new appeal to release Greek soldiers

Turkish court rejects new appeal to release Greek soldiers

A court in northwestern Turkey rejected on Wednesday the third appeal to release from pre-trial detention two Greek soldiers who were arrested on March 3 after straying into Turkish territory in bad weather, according to Turkish press reports.

The judges based their ruling on the grounds that the conditions on which they had made their initial decision to jail them – that is, that they have no permanent residence in Turkey – had not changed. Turkish prosecutors have yet to file official charges against them.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will consider returning the two Greek soldiers if Greece extradites the eight Turkish servicemen who sought protection in the country after the foiled coup attempt in July 2016.

Despite repeated requests by Ankara, Greece's Supreme Court has irrevocably ruled against their extradition, while the Council of State will examine their request for asylum in May.

The Greek government has categorically rejected any exchange of soldiers saying the two cases are unrelated and that judicial rulings are respected.

Asked on the issue during a visit to the University of the Peloponnese in Tripoli, US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, reiterated his hope that the soldiers will be released soon.

"We understand how important this is for Greece and as a United States government we've been fully engaged and hope that these two soldiers will be able to return home very soon," he told journalists. 

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