Wanted Turkish soldiers caught fleeing to Greece on jet skis

The Turkish Coast Guard stopped three former members of the Turkish military accused of membership in a terrorist organisation off the coast of the country’s western İzmir province as they attempted to cross into neighbouring Greece on jet skis on Tuesday, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The three suspects, who are on trial over links to the Gülen movement, were arrested in the town of Çeşme after the Coast Guard turned them over into police custody, it said.

The three former soldiers arrived in İzmir via Istanbul and allegedly purchased jet skis for the purpose of crossing over to Greece, the agency said.

Turkey blames U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen and his followers, known as the Gülen movement, for the failed coup of July 15, 2016, and has since sacked hundreds of thousands of public officials and army personnel in a series of purges.

During its years-long alliance with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Gülen movement had been accused of infiltrating the armed forces, judiciary, police, civil service and the media  and placing its followers into influential positions. 

Greece has registered an increase in Turkish citizens seeking asylum in the neighbouring country following the failed putsch, and a court in the country refused to extradite eight Turkish servicemen who fled following the coup in 2018, leading to a diplomatic spat.