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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Turkey urges extradition of soldiers seeking asylum in Greece

Iran Press TV

Wed Dec 7, 2016 6:51PM

Turkey has demanded the immediate extradition of all the Turkish soldiers who sought asylum in Greece following the July 15 failed coup.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state-run broadcaster TRT in Brussels on Wednesday that the eight soldiers were involved in the coup attempt, adding, "Our wish is the immediate extradition of these people to Turkey."

The call came a day after a Greek court ruled that three Turkish army officers accused of playing a role in the coup against the administration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could be extradited to Turkey.

But it had rejected the extradition of another three Turkish military officers on Monday, saying Turkish authorities had not provided sufficient evidence over the officers' involvement in the coup attempt, and that their personal safety was in danger at home.

The Greek court is expected to decide the fate of the remaining two officers on Thursday.

Ankara says the eight, who deny any involvement in the coup attempt, will face prosecution if they return.

Turkey has arrested over 37,000 people and dismissed or suspended more than 100,000 others in the civil service, judiciary, police, military and elsewhere since the abortive putsch.

'150 Turkish officers gone since mid-July'

Meanwhile, NATO's top military commander said on Wednesday that about 150 Turkish officers with the alliance's high command have been recalled or retired in response to the putsch.

US Army General Curtis Scaparrotti said the move had placed "an extra load on our remaining people," and that "it obviously has an impact on their military."

The NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe noted that many of those left were top officers and that filling their lost expertise would take a long time.

"I had talented, capable people here and I'm taking a degradation on my staff," he said.

The number of those purged represents almost half of Turkey's nearly 300-strong officer contingent at NATO's high command in Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands.

Scaparrotti said that the posts of nearly 75 of those who had been recalled or retired had been filled so far.

He stressed that he had no suspicion that any of the Turkish officers might be coup plotters.

Scaparrotti also said that he had talked with Turkey's Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar about his concerns regarding the officers and their families, and that Akar had assured him that they would receive well treatment.

Western governments and major human rights campaigners have censured Ankara's crackdown, saying the Turkish government has acted beyond the rule of law in its hunt for coup plotters.

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