Gülen-linked U.S. nationals turned away from Greece

Three U.S. nationals of Turkish origin allegedly linked to the Gülen movement have been denied entry to Greece at Athens National Airport on Monday, Kathimerini reported

The three that arrived in Athens by a commercial flight and introduced themselves as members of non-governmental institutions and real-estate investors were suspected of coming to Greece to buy land and facilities to host Gülen movement supporters in Greece. They were sent back to the U.S. due to “national security reasons”, after an inspection at the airport, which was handled with great secrecy given the sensitivity of the case, Kathimerini said.

Greek government officials warned that the Gülen movement may have plans to establish a network on Greek soil, describing it as a threat to national security.

The Gülen Movement, a religious group under the leadership of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, is held responsible by the Turkish government for organising the ‘judicial coup” of 2013, as well as the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Since than the Turkish government have jailed many Gülenists and sacked them from their public sector jobs. Many Gülenists have fled abroad, and approximately 2.000 of them now reside in Greece.

Relations between Turkey and Greece have become strained over the last couple of months due to the disputes on the sharing of energy resources around Cyprus, as well as fighter jet incursions over the Aegean Sea. The Greek courts have refused to extradite eight Turkish soldiers who are accused of having participated to the coup attempt, which has also damaged relations.

Turkey also arrested two Greek soldiers who crossed its northwestern border in bad weather in early March. Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos stated afterwards that two Greek soldiers were being detained in Turkey as ‘hostages’.