Greece releases Turkish serviceman seeking asylum

Greece releases Turkish serviceman seeking asylum
Greek authorities have released from custody one of the eight Turkish servicemen who fled Turkey after a failed military coup in 2016.
2 min read
27 April, 2018
Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Fethullah Gulen for the coup attempt [Getty]

Greek authorities have released from custody one of the eight Turkish servicemen who fled to the country in a military helicopter seeking asylum following Turkey's failed military coup in 2016.

The pilot, who has not been officially named, will be subject to strict restrictions on his movements pending a decision on his asylum application.

The case has soured relations between regional rivals Greece and Turkey.

Greek courts have rejected Turkish demands for the eight men's extradition to face charges of allegedly participating in the coup - judges ruled that the eight would not get a fair trial in Turkey.

The serviceman's release on Thursday follows a Supreme Court decision last week that said he must remain at an undisclosed address and appear daily at a police station.

Meanwhile, Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet's chairman Akin Atalay joined a protest for free press and justice outside an Istanbul court, a day after he was released after serving over 500 days in prison.

The contentious case, seen as a test of press freedom under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saw a court hand out multiple prison sentences to over a dozen Cumhuriyet staff for "aiding and abetting terror groups without being a member" on Wednesday.

They however remain free pending appeal.

More than 160,000 people have been jailed since the failed coup attempt in 2016. Nearly the same number of civil servants have been fired for suspected Gulenist ties as part of a wider general crackdown.

Of those jailed, more than 50,000 have been formally charged and are serving time in prison.

US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen denies any involvement in the 2016 coup attempt.

Critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan say he is using the coup attempt to crush opposition to his rule. Turkey is currently the world's worst jailer of journalists, with 189 behind bars as of March 2018 according to the Stockholm Centre for Freedom. 

However, Ankara maintains the measures are meant to combat terrorism.

Turkey has experienced a number of deadly attacks linked or inspired by the Islamic State group in recent years, including a 2017 nightclub shooting that left 39 dead in Istanbul.