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.