Turkey Requests Extradition of 8 Army Staff Who Fled to Greece After Failed Coup

The eight - six helicopter pilots and two engineers - say their lives would be endangered if returned to Turkey and have applied for asylum.

A Turkish military officer is escorted by policemen as he leaves a building of the Greek Asylum Service in Athens, Greece, July 27, 2016.
Yorgos Karahalis, AP

Greece has received an official extradition request from Turkey seeking the return of eight Turkish military personnel who fled to northern Greece by helicopter after an abortive coup in Turkey, Greece's foreign and justice ministries said on Thursday.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said it received the request on Wednesday and forwarded it to the Greek Justice Ministry the same day. 

For its part, the Justice Ministry said it had received the extradition request and was examining its legality and relevant procedures. If all was found to be in order, the request was expected to be sent to a prosecutor on Friday, the ministry said.

The eight — six helicopter pilots and two engineers — deny involvement in Turkey's July 15 attempted coup. They flew to the northeastern Greek city of Alexandroupolis the following morning and have applied for asylum in Greece, saying they fear they wouldn't face a fair trial if returned to Turkey and that their lives would be endangered.

They received suspended sentences in Greece for illegally entering the country, and are due for asylum application interviews Friday.