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Greece rejects asylum request by three Turkish soldiers (Updated)

Two of the eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece in a helicopter and requested political asylum

Greece has rejected asylum requests from three of a group of eight Turkish soldiers who fled there after the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July, police sources said on Wednesday.

Turkey has formally sought the men’s extradition, calling them “traitors” and “terrorist elements”. The soldiers deny involvement in the coup.

The three can appeal the asylum decisions, a Greek official said. It was not immediately clear when rulings for the other five might be delivered.

The eight military personnel flew a Black Hawk helicopter to northern Greece on July 16, hours after the coup attempt against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

They asked for asylum after arriving in Greece, but were arrested and received two-month suspended jail sentences on charges of entering the country illegally.

A Greek police official said the three men had appeared before an asylum board in Athens earlier on Wednesday accompanied by their lawyer.

“They could not refute the evidence submitted by Turkish authorities on their participation in the events of July 15,” the source said, referring to the date of the coup attempt.

Their lawyer Stavroula Tomara had earlier told Reuters any negative decision would be appealed.

The men maintained their lives would be in danger if they were forcibly returned to Turkey, denied any involvement in the coup and said they had fled when their helicopter came under fire.

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