UPDATES WITH FURTHER QUOTES FROM CAVUSOGLU, ADDS DETAILS FROM PHONE CALL WITH GREEK COUNTERPART
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey on Saturday demanded the extradition of eight military officers who fled to Greece following Friday’s failed coup.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that Turkey had “requested the immediate surrender of the eight traitor soldiers who fled to Greece with a helicopter.”
Greek police said the helicopter landed at Alexandroupoli airport, near the Greek-Turkish border, at around 11.50 a.m. local time (0850GMT).
The eight occupants were arrested and claimed political asylum. In a statement, the Greek General Staff said the Black Hawk helicopter would be returned to Turkey immediately.
“The authorities responsible for asylum will examine the helicopter passengers’ request for political asylum in Greece,” the statement added.
Cavusoglu later said that of the eight officers, the highest-ranking one was a colonel.
Speaking to reporters following an extraordinary session of parliament, Cavusoglu said he got a phone call from his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias, during which they discussed developments concerning the attempted coup in Turkey, as well as the Turkish military staff who landed and sought asylum in Greece.
“They will expedite the extradition process,” he said, adding, “God willing we will bring those traitors to Turkey and surrender them to justice.”
During the call, according to a Greek Foreign Ministry statement, Kotzias reiterated Athens’ condemnation of the attempted coup and stressed that the issue would be examined by the Greek government, which would follow the relevant procedures under international law.
Kotsias said the fact that the suspects are facing charges of violating the constitutional order and attempting to dismantle the nation’s democracy will be taken under very serious consideration, said the statement.
Speaking about the incident, Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said, “On Saturday morning a Turkish military helicopter sent an SOS while entering Greek airspace and asked permission for emergency landing.”
*Magda Panoutsopoulou contributed to this report from Athens.