Greek soldiers are hostages in Turkey, minister says

Turkey is holding two Greek soldiers as hostages in its prisons, Defence Minister Panos Kammnos said on Friday.

Kammenos made the remarks after a meeting with his Romanian counterpart Mihai Fifor in Bucharest, Ekathimerini reported.

“I am asking the support of the Romanian defense minister for the immediate release of these NATO, European and Greek servicemen,” he said.

Turkey arrested the two soldiers last week after they crossed its northwestern border in bad weather. The men are being held on suspicion of espionage and a request for their release was rejected by a Turkish court on Monday.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has sought to quell speculation that Ankara could use the Greek soldiers' arrest to secure the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers in Greece that it accuses of involvement in a coup attempt in July 2016.

Athens is calling on the European Union and United States to help secure their release.

Political and military tensions between the Aegean neighbours have risen amid a territorial dispute over islets off Turkey's western coastline and gas reserves near the divided island of Cyprus.
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