Abdullah Öcalan, the founder of the Kurdish PKK organization, has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), accusing Greece of violating his rights during his stay in the country.
ECHR approved his appeal and a hearing will be held at the court’s headquarters in Strasbourg, France in the near future, the Turkish Service of Deutsche Welle reports.
ECHR is an international court of the Council of Europe that interprets the European Convention on Human Rights. The court hears applications alleging that a contracting state has breached one or more of the human rights enumerated in the Convention or its optional protocols to which a member state is a party.
In 1988, Öcalan, who is serving life in a Turkish prison, sought refuge in Greece to avoid capture by Turkey, where he was regarded as a terrorist seeking autonomy for Kurdistan. Greek secret services initially permitted him to remain covertly in the country.
When rumors of his Greek hideout reached the Turkish secret service MIT and the CIA, Greece sent him to its embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, where he stayed for a time at the ambassador’s residence.
After Greece asked him to vacate the premises, Turkish agents abducted him on February 15, 1999 at the Nairobi airport and flew him back to Turkey for trial.
Following the capture of Öcalan, the Greek government entered into turmoil over his capture and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, and the Minister of Public Order Philipos Petsalnikos resigned from their posts.
George Costoulas, the Greek ambassador who protected him, said that his own life was in danger after the operation.
Öcalan claims Greece failed to protect his rights
Öcalan, who has been detained since February 1999 at the high-security Imrali prison in Turkey, claims that Greece failed to protect his human rights and grant him asylum although his life was in danger from the Turkish government.
He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to aggravated life imprisonment when Turkey abolished the death penalty. From 1999 until 2009, he was the sole prisoner in İmralı prison at the Sea of Marmara. He remains in prison there today.
Öcalan’s prison capture led thousands of Kurds worldwide to protest, condemning his capture at Greek embassies in Europe.
Greece suffered a major diplomatic blow in the Arab world and faced the anger of thousands of Kurdish exiles residing in the country. Since then, Turkey has accused Greece of harboring Kurdish terrorists, a charge Greece denies.