Shortly before Greece’s leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was scheduled to land in Turkey for an official two-day visit on February 5, Ankara announced that it had placed a bounty on eight Turkish servicemen accused of participating in the alleged coup attempt against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.
The eight individuals fled Turkey shortly after Erdogan crushed the coup attempt and escaped to Greece where they were given political asylum – a move that infuriated Erdogan, as he and the Turkish government consider the small group of officers and non-commissioned officers to be terrorists.
The €673,00 bounty that was placed on each of the eight soldiers’ heads follows multiple attempts by Erdogan to have the men extradited to Turkey – something Greece’s Supreme Court refuses to carry out.
In the more than two years since the eight men – majors Gencay Boyuk and Ahmet Guzel, captains Abdullah Yetik, Feridun Coban, Suleyman Ozkaynakci, Ugur Ucan, and sergeants Bilal Kurugul and Mesut Firat – arrived in Greece, Erdogan has them placed on Turkey’s list of 74 most wanted terrorists alongside militants from ISIS and members of Kurdish rebel groups that are fighting for independence from the Turkish government.
The Greek government denounced the €5.4 million bounty as a provocative measure that does little to improve bilateral relations between the two neighbours and erstwhile foes. while pointed to the independence of the judicial system that granted three out of the eight servicemen political asylum.
The Greek Supreme Court has consistently shot down the prospect of repatriating any of them back to Turkey due to Erdogan’s poor human rights track record and the complete lack of independence in Turkey’s judicial system