Greece says migrant pushback claims are fake news by Turkey

Greece denied allegations that migrants were being illegally expelled from the country, claiming such “fake news” reported by rights groups had been engineered by Turkey.

"Investigations until now by (EU border agency) Frontex and the (Greek) coastguard have not confirmed any of the claims," Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said, Al Arabiya reported on Sunday.

Several reports published by migrant support groups claim that Greece is illegally sending asylum seekers back to Turkey, ignoring their rights in violation of international law, Al Arabiya said.

"These are part of a broader fake news strategy promoted by Turkey, through certain non-government organisations and smuggler networks," Mitarachi said.

Berlin-based rights group Mare Liberum said on Friday that more than 9,000 migrants were pushed back to Turkey between March and December.

In August, two EU legislators submitted a parliamentary question to the European Council, citing allegations that at least 1 072 refugees had been secretly expelled from Europe by the Greek authorities. They referred to an article in the New York Times saying that Greek officials had abandoned migrants in inflatable and overburdened life rafts.

In a written response in November, the European Council declined to comment on press reports, but said that every EU member state was obliged to uphold rights to asylum.