Turkey rejects release of Greek soldiers for third time

Turkey has rejected a third official request for the release of two Greek soldiers arrested in Turkey after crossing the border during a patrol in early March.

Aggelos Mitretodis and Dimitris Kouklatzis have been detained since then, but Turkey has yet to press specific charges against them, according to the Greek Reporter.

The one-and-a-half-hour hearing on Tuesday rejected the soldiers’ release on the grounds that they might flee, since they have no registered place of residence in Turkey.

Greece insists the pair crossed the border accidentally during bad weather, a situation that it says would ordinarily have been dealt with quietly on an officer level.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Defence Minister Panos Kammnos have accused Turkey of holding the soldiers as “hostages” for the extradition of eight Turkish servicemen who sought refuge in Greece after the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

The eight Turkish soldiers, who Turkey accuse of being members of the Gülen movement, a religious group accused of orchestrating the coup attempt, were scheduled to be released this month after spending the maximum 18 months in detention without trial. Three Turkish extradition requests were turned down.