ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek court on Friday ruled against the extradition of a Turkish man wanted by Ankara over links to a banned militant group blamed for suicide bombings in Turkey, court officials said.
Mehmet Dogan, 60, is one of nine people detained by Greece’s anti-terrorism service in November, weeks before Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Greece in December.
The court said on Friday Dogan, although still being held in Greece, had been granted political asylum in France. He told the court this week he had gone to France in 2011, after being held for 20 years in prison in Turkey, a court official said.
“He has already been recognized as a refugee in France ... therefore he cannot be sent back to Turkey, where his life is in danger according to former rulings,” the official said.
Later on Friday, Turkey said the decision had “caused great disappointment,” and accused Greek courts of protecting terrorists and acting in a way that “does not befit neighboring behavior.”
“We expect the Greek judiciary to make decisions away from political pressures and in accordance with the law in the coming period,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The nine detained have been charged in Greece with setting up and belonging to a criminal organization, terrorist-related acts of supplying explosive materials, and with illegal possession of firearms, smoke bombs and firecrackers.
All have all denied those charges, saying in a statement in December: “Solidarity with people who are fighting for their rights and freedom is not terrorism.”
Dogan is also wanted in Turkey over alleged links to a far-left group blamed for attacks and suicide bombings there since 1990. His lawyers told the Greek court he had been sentenced to three years in prison in Turkey in the case.
Reporting by Constantinos Georgizas in Athens and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Andrew Roche, William Maclean