By Kemal Karadag
Since the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, Greece has been a safe haven for criminals from our country, said Turkey’s justice minister on Saturday.
In a letter to his Greek counterpart Stavros Kontonis, Abdulhamit Gul criticized a Greek court order releasing one of eight fugitive ex-soldiers accused of involvement in the July 15, 2016 defeated coup.
The eight ex-soldiers fled to Greece in a helicopter they stole just after the defeated coup attempt by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which martyred 250 people and injured 2,200 others, he recounted.
Gul said Greece repeatedly refused to extradite the ex-soldiers to Turkey and that the court order to release one upset Turkey.
Gul also said Greece had condemned the defeated coup attempt against Turkey’s democratic government but afterwards had taken to sheltering and protecting the terrorists responsible, casting a shadow over Turkish-Greek solidarity.
"Since the defeated coup, Greece has been a safe haven for criminals from our country,” he wrote.
In the almost two years since, terrorists fled to Greece illegally to escape justice in Turkey, he added.
“Greece became a gathering place for criminals," Gul said, adding that the coup-plotters in Greece should be extradited to Turkey as soon as possible.
The eight fugitive ex-soldiers in Greece are accused by Turkish authorities of being coup-plotters and FETO members.
Speaking to reporters at the opening ceremony of a new railway in southern Gaziantep province, Gul said it was "disappointing" that terrorist organizations were being protected in Greece.
”I hope that both administrative and judicial authorities in Greece fulfill the requirements of law, international law and the fight against terrorism,” Gul added.
On Friday, Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik slammed Greece for openly protecting FETO members.
"Not releasing them means that Greece is encouraging coup-plotters," Celik wrote on Twitter.
"Protecting these terrorists is being an accomplice to this crime."
On Thursday, the Greek Council of State -- the nation’s highest administrative court -- ordered the release of ex-Turkish soldier Suleyman Ozkaynakci under judicial control.