Turkey’s foreign minister on Friday claimed Greek premier Alexis Tsipras had been pressured by fellow EU countries into not extraditing the eight former soldiers wanted by Ankara on coup charges.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking less than two days before crunch presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, told state-run broadcaster TRT Tsipras had initially agreed to return the men, who arrived in Greece by helicopter on the night of the July 2016 coup attempt.
This is a repeat of previous claims by Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Ankara was assured the eight men would be sent to Turkey for trial.
In April, Erdogan explicitly linked the case of the eight men with that of two Greek soldiers, held in Turkey since the beginning of March without charge after straying over the country’s border.
According to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Erdogan said: “They asked us to give the two Greek soldiers back. And we told them there are eight soldiers who tried to make a coup.
“First, you have to give them to us. If you give them to us then we can put the others on the table. Because they crossed the border.”