Turkish Gülen supporters arrive in Crete by boat seeking asylum

A sailing boat carrying people fearing persecution in Turkey for supporting Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen arrived at the Greek island of Crete on Sunday.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding an attempted military coup in 2016. Its leader Fethullah Gülen lives in self-imposed exile in the United States.

The boat carrying four men, two women and their children sailed into the bay of Kouremenos and its occupants have requested political asylum, the Greek City Times reported on Monday. The boat was accompanied by the Greek coastguard, it said.

Over 100,000 alleged Gülen movement members have been jailed or dismissed from their jobs in state institutions since the government declared a state of emergency following the coup attempt. Thousands of members of the group have sought refuge in other countries, particularly in Greece, in order to avoid prosecution and social isolation.

In November, 65 asylum seekers, including 20 former police officers and a Kurdish member of parliament, arrived at the Western Greek coastal town of Katakolo by boat and claimed asylum, the Greek City Times reported.