Greek court rejects extradition of Turk over links to bombings


ATHENS: A Greek court has 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.

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.

Meanwhile, weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported that Germany has granted asylum to four Turkish soldiers, including one Ankara accuses of playing a leading role in the attempted military coup of July 2016, .

By granting them asylum, German authorities make it impossible for them to be extradited to face charges, a refusal likely to dismay Turkish authorities, who accuse them of treachery and membership in a terrorist organization.

Turkey accuses Ilham P., a former Turkish colonel whose surname cannot be published in full because of German privacy practices, then head of the Ankara military academy, of being ring-leader of the group.

The Foreign Ministry could not immediately comment on the report.

Relations between European countries and Turkey have been strained ever since the coup attempt and the crackdown that followed it, with many bemoaning Turkey’s authoritarian turn under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Large numbers of German citizens have been detained in Turkey for what Berlin regards as political reasons, most of them over alleged links to coup plotters.

Also on Friday, a Greek court ruled that a man accused of being behind a series of suicide bombings in Turkey could not be extradited because his life would be in danger at home.

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