Turkey accuses Greece of protecting coup soldiers

Greece violated international law by granting asylum to a Turkish soldier who fled to Greece after the collapse of an attempted military coup in July 2016, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The Greek Council of State on Wednesday rejected a Greek government objection to a court’s 2017 decision to grant asylum to the soldier, Süleyman Özkaynakçı, one of eight Turkish servicemen accused of taking part in the coup who flew a helicopter to Greece when it became clear the attempt to overthrow Turkey’s Islamist government had failed.

More than 200 people were killed in the failed putsch, which Turkey blames on followers of the U.S.-based Turkish Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen.

The Council of State decision is final and is expected to affect the asylum applications of the remaining seven soldiers, which are still pending. 

“The Greek Council of State, in defiance of the rules of international law, granted asylum to putschist Süleyman Özkaynakçı,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said. 

“It has been thereby reaffirmed by the international community that Greece is a country, which protects and shelters the putschists. We strongly condemn this decision that deeply offends the conscience of the Turkish nation,” it said.

The ministry said it hoped the Greek judiciary would refrain from taking similar biased decisions in the future.