Greeks find Turkish officers in migrant smuggler's car

Crammed inside a BMW with Bulgarian license plates, alongside two Iranians and three Syrians, the police said


Afp October 15, 2016
A Greek police officer looks at an overcrowded dinghy carrying refugees and migrants arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos. PHOTO: REUTERS

THESSALONIKI, GREECE: Police in Greece have detained two Turkish military officers found in a smuggler's car that had several migrants on board, officials said on Saturday.

The arrest took place in the northern city of Xanthi on Thursday evening, local police told AFP.

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The two Turks were crammed inside a BMW with Bulgarian license plates, alongside two Iranians and three Syrians, the police said.

It was not immediately clear how and when the two men came to Greece, and if they intended to file for asylum.

"We are not ruling out the possibility that they themselves were part of the smuggling operation," a police source in Athens said.

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Several Turkish nationals have fled to Greece following a failed army coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July.

Among them are eight military officers who flew by helicopter to the northern city of Alexandroupoli shortly after the attempted government takeover in mid-July.

The eight men have requested asylum in Greece, insisting their lives are in danger despite denying any role in the failed coup.

But Greek authorities have turned down their initial requests for protection.

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Ankara has called on Athens to extradite them all, but that request will only be considered by Greek justice once the asylum issue is definitively decided, according to a Greek judicial source.

The case threatens to strain ties between the uneasy NATO allies.

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