October 11, 2016 - 9:57 AM
THESSALONIKI, Greece - Greek authorities have rejected claims by four more Turkish military servicemen who fled in the wake of their country's failed coup attempt in mid-July.
Eight servicemen fled to the Greek border town of Alexandroupolis by helicopter, and all remain in police custody in Athens. Seven have now had their asylum claims rejected, following the latest decision announced Tuesday, with a decision pending for the eighth.
They have the right to appeal before being deported to Turkey.
Lawyers representing the servicemen have argued that they face mistreatment in Turkey and have accused the Greek government of not allowing a fair asylum procedure — an allegation the government has rejected.
The human rights watchdog Amnesty International says conditions in Turkey have "deteriorated markedly " in recent months, and worsened further since the attempted coup.
In a statement to The Associated Press, relayed though their lawyers, the seven servicemen argued that they hadn't been fairly treated in Greece.
"We believe that the decision made by the Asylum Service have not been based on international and European Union laws and practices but have been influenced by political actions at a bilateral level," the statement said.
"We came to Greece to save our lives and not to become a tool of foreign policy and bilateral agreements."
Officials at Greece's Asylum Service declined to comment on the letter.
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News from © The Associated Press, 2016