ATHENS, July 17 – The Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece in a helicopter after a failed military coup against the government were brought before a prosecutor in the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis on Sunday, accused of crossing into Greece illegally.
The eight men have sought political asylum in Greece, fearing their lives would be in danger in Turkey, the lawyer representing four of them told Greek TV. Turkey has said it wants the “traitors” extradited soon.
Rebel soldiers used tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to try to topple Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday night, strafing parliament and the intelligence headquarters in Ankara while seizing a bridge and surrounding the airport in Istanbul.
Vasiliki Marinaki, the lawyer representing four of the men, told Greece’s Skai TV the men were following orders by their superiors to transport injured people from the streets of Istanbul via helicopter to ambulances elsewhere.
“That’s what they did until they came under fire by police,” Marinaki said. “They did not know a there was a coup and they were not involved in it,” Marinaki said.
In a phone call late on Saturday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan the requests would be processed “swiftly” but with “absolute respect” to what is stipulated by international law and human rights treaties.
His foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, told his Turkish counterpart on Saturday it would be “borne very seriously in mind” by authorities that the arrested stand accused in their country of violating constitutional legality and attempting to overthrow democracy.