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Turkey Fumes at Greece as Two Found Guilty on Espionage Charges

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The Greek-Turkish border at Evros River. Public Domain

Turkey condemned Greece on Wednesday after a court in Rhodes found two men arrested last year on the island guilty of espionage against Greece.

The men are Sebahattin Bayram, 36, a secretary who worked at the Turkish Consulate General in Rhodes, and Mehmet Nezametin, 53, a cook on a passenger ship serving on a ship plying the Rhodes-Kastellorizo route. They are both from Thrace, in northeastern Greece.

Bayram was sentenced to five years behind bars, while Nezametin was handed a four-year prison sentence.

Espionage against Greek military installations and troop movements

The two spied on Greece by taking photographs and gathering other sensitive information about Greek military installations and troop movements in the southeastern Aegean.

The cook had been accused of providing Nezametin with information about the positions of Greek warships and the number of Greek soldiers traveling to and from the remote island of Kastellorizo on the “Stavros,” the ship on which he worked, on numerous occasions.

The two were found not guilty of the charges of supporting enemy combat forces and of violating state secrets.

According to intelligence sources, Bayram had been under surveillance as he was openly propagating the concept of an “Independent Western Thrace” on social media.

Investigations have reportedly shown that he traveled frequently to Istanbul, where he had contacts and developed relationships with Turkish secret services.

He was hired at the Turkish consulate in Rhodes initially as an interpreter, but quickly, according to investigators, he became the “right-hand man” of the consul.

Turkey condemns court decision in Greece

The ruling was quickly condemned by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry. “All the principles of law, including international law and private international law, were breached,” the Ministry charged in a statement.

“Following the arrest of our Consulate Staff Member on 18 December 2020, baseless news and comments were published in the Greek press, aiming at pressuring the public opinion and justice,” the statement said.

“Even the right to defense was violated due to the procedural violations of the court. The prosecutor and the panel of judges acted with prejudice,” it declared.

The Ministry said that “all necessary steps in the Greek domestic law and international law will continue to be taken with a view to protecting the rights of our staff.”

Unnamed Greek diplomatic sources speaking to the Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA) underlined that the Greek justice system is independent and an attempt to turn an issue of internal legal order into an international issue cannot be accepted.

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