Greece says expects Turkey to seek extradition of soldiers

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece said on Friday it was expecting an extradition request from Turkey for two Turks who had claimed asylum and were suspected by Turkish authorities of a link to a coup attempt last July.

The two, who appeared to be members of the military, have been held at an undisclosed location in northern Greece since applying for asylum on Feb. 20.

Eight other members of the Turkish military flew to Greece by helicopter last year in the aftermath of the failed attempt to topple President Tayyip Erdogan. Greece’s top court has declined to extradite them, in a case which has strained relations between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.

Since the failed coup, some 40,000 people have been arrested in Turkey and more than 100,000 have been sacked or suspended from the military, civil service and private sector.

“We would expect that Turkey will submit an extradition request (for the two)...This case looks a lot more serious,” a government official said, but gave no details.

At least one media outlet reported they were commandos, whose unit went on trial on Monday on charges of attempting to assassinate Erdogan as the coup unfolded on July 15, with attacks on the parliament and a hotel where the president had been staying.

“They initially claimed doing different professions ... when we ascertained their identity, we realize they were members of the military,” a police official told Reuters.

Greece’s defense minister Panos Kammenos told Ant1 TV:

“Greece condemned the coup attempt from its inception, and from there on it’s Greece’s courts which will decide, based on Greek laws and international conventions, the extradition or not of someone who seeks asylum.”

Reporting By Lefteris Papadimas and Michele Kambas, writing by Michele Kambas; editing by Ralph Boulton