Greek Court Grants Asylum to Turkish Soldier, Raising Tensions With Ankara

Greek Court Grants Asylum to Turkish Soldier, Raising Tensions With Ankara

According to sources, judges at Greece's highest administrative court upheld the Turkish officer's asylum request in a decision that is expected to influence the course of the other seven servicemen's applications. Ankara has branded Mr Ozkaynakci, 36, as a terrorist who masterminded the escape, commandeering a military helicopter under Turkish radars days after the botched coup.

"The justice system of Greece, an European Union member, chose to defend the terrorists who attempted a coup to overthrow democracy in Turkey", he said on Twitter.

Turkish EU Minister Omer Celik called the Council of State ruling "the most embarrassing decision a country can make".

The Greek government had appealed against the asylum board verdict on one of the soldiers, winning a temporary injunction suspending his asylum status "for reasons of public interest" until a formal court hearing.

A Greek judicial source said the Greek government has launched an appeal against the second ruling - the result of which will apply to the next six officers.

Turkey claims the soldiers are members of the movement led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of ordering the attempted putsch.

The Turkish soldiers deny they took part in the coup and say they are scared for their lives.

A further complication arose in March, when Turkish forces arrested two Greek soldiers who crossed the border whilst allegedly lost in the fog.

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