By Derya Gulnaz Ozcan
ATHENS (AA) – After the July 15, 2016 defeated coup attempt in Türkiye, neighboring Greece became a top destination for members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) fleeing justice.
According to the Greek press estimates, since July 15, 2016, nearly 20,000 Turkish citizens, mostly FETO members, crossed into Greece via the Aegean islands or the Meric (Evros) River. While some of them went on to other European countries, about 9,000 of them sought political asylum in Greece itself.
- Greece rejects Ankara’s request for extradition of 8 coup plotters
Notoriously, just one day after the coup bid, eight FETO member soldiers fled to the Greek city of Alexandroupolis in a military helicopter belonging to Türkiye and sought asylum there.
In Greece, the soldiers claimed that they were unaware of the coup plot, and Athens refused to agree to insistent extradition requests from Turkish officials.
This April the Greek media claimed that the FETO member soldiers were sent abroad by Greek authorities out of fear Türkiye’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) might seek to bring them home to face justice.
In March 2021, FETO ringleader Fetullah Gulen sent a video message to a promotional event in Athens for a book written about him.
"Greece is a sister country," Gulen said. “Thanks to this brotherhood, we remember them with gratitude and appreciation. [What Greece did] will be written with gold and silver on the glorious pages of history.”
The book about the terrorist leader, Fethullah Gulen: A Life of Service, was written by US historian Jon Pahl and published in Greek by Papazisis Publishers.
- Defeated coup
Türkiye on Friday commemorates those killed during the July 15, 2016 defeated coup.
Since its designation in October 2016, every year, the country marks July 15 as Democracy and National Unity Day, with events held to commemorate those who lost their lives beating back the putschists and remembering the bravery of the nation.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup, which left 251 people dead and 2,734 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
The attempt by FETO to overthrow the government began around 10 p.m. local time (1900GMT) on July 15, 2016, and was thwarted by 8 a.m. the next day.
Standing against the threat, the Turkish people courageously showed the world that they would not tolerate any attempt to thwart their will as expressed through their democratically elected government.
* Writing by Seda Sevencan in Istanbul