Cyprus Mail

Turkish soldiers in extradition row seek release from Greek police custody

The eight Turkish soldiers, who fled to Greece in a helicopter and requested political asylum after a failed military coup against the government, are escorted by police officers as they arrive at the supreme court in Athens

Turkish soldiers caught in an extradition row between Athens and Ankara appeared before a Greek court on Monday to challenge an order extending their custody by three months, court officials said.

The eight men landed a helicopter in northern Greece in July after the failure of a coup againstPresident Tayyip Erdogan and requested asylum, saying their lives were in danger at home.

Greece’s top court blocked their extradition last week, angering Turkey, a Nato ally which alleges the men were involved in efforts to overthrow Erdogan and has demanded they be sent home.

The men – three majors, three captains and two sergeant-majors – have been kept in custody pending final decisions on their asylum applications in Greece. They are challenging a decision by immigration authorities to extend that custody by three months on public order and national security grounds.

During Monday’s closed-door hearing, the soldiers argued that innocent people should not be held in custody, a court official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A decision was expected in the coming days.

The months’ long case has strained relations between the two neighbours who remain at odd overs issues raging from territorial disputes to ethnically-split Cyprus.

Turkey wants Greece to reconsider what it said was a politically-motivated decision not to extradite them, and threatened measures including scrapping a bilateral migration deal with Athens.

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