Turkey coup: Turkish military helicopter lands in Greece and crew requests asylum

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu demands return of seven military personnel and one civilian

Harry Cockburn
Saturday 16 July 2016 11:16 BST
Seven military personnel and one civilian landed in northern Greece in a Blackhawk helicopter
Seven military personnel and one civilian landed in northern Greece in a Blackhawk helicopter (AFP/Getty)

A Turkish military helicopter has landed in northern Greece where its crew has requested political asylum.

Local reports suggest the crew are part of the faction of the Turkish military that attempted to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in a coup on Friday night.

Greece’s defence ministry has confirmed seven military personnel and one civilian landed in a Blackhawk military helicopter in Alexandroupoli and requested asylum.

Upon arrival the eight crew members were arrested for illegal entry to the country.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, has demanded their return.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency quotes the Turkish foreign minister as saying “we have demanded the immediate return of the eight treacherous officers who fled to Greece by helicopter”.

According to the Guardian, the crew removed all badges and insignia from their uniforms making it impossible to know their rank.

However, Turkey's Dogan news agency is reporting that two majors, a captain and five privates have requested asylum.

Violence between protesters and police in Turkey

It is understood to be the first time a Turkish military vehicle had landed in Greece seeking asylum in the country.

Greece will examine the request for political asylum on Saturday, two Greek government sources said.

But it is thought to be highly unlikely the men would be granted asylum in Greece.

The men are due to appear before a Greek prosecutor on Sunday, and the Blackhawk helicopter will be returned to Turkey immediately, a Greek government official said.

More than 161 people are dead and more than 1,000 wounded following the violent clashes in Turkey after a coup was launched to overthrow Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

A total of 1,563 military personnel have been detained across the country after the Turkish government and military forces loyal to the president cracked down on the attempted coup.

On Saturday morning, the government appeared to regain control, with troops surrendering as civilians took to the streets in support of the government.

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