A Turkish judge accused of being a sympathizer of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen fled the nation in a migrant boat traveling to the island of Chios to seek asylum in Greece.
Upon landing in Greece, the judge was taken into custody and charged with illegally entering the country without a proper visa. The forty-eight-year-old was transferred to Athens to await a hearing on his asylum request.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the judge was the “sixteenth person to claim asylum in Greece on the grounds of persecution by the Turkish government.” Ankara blames Gulen for organizing the failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July through his followers in the country; Gulen himself resides in Pennsylvania. The drama surrounding not only this judge’s asylum, but also the asylum requests of the other fifteen, is putting an immense strain on relations between the two countries.
Asylum seekers from Turkey have been increasing in number in Greece since the attempted coup in July. Following the coup attempt, eight Turkish soldiers flew to Athens on a helicopter, seeking asylum in Greece. According to Breitbart News, “The eight officers, who arrived in Greece only hours after the unsuccessful coup, are seeking asylum in Greece after having landed their Blackhawk helicopter in the Greek border town of Alexandroupoli. While the eight have requested asylum, they were in court Monday for illegally entering the country without a visa.”
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports, “They [soldiers] had been sentenced to suspended two-month prison terms on charges of illegally entering the country in late July. The hearing of their asylum claim had begun on Aug. 19.”
According to Reuters,”Turkey has since detained thousands of soldiers and half its generals alongside thousands of judges and prosecutors.” Fearing death if they returned to Turkey, the soldiers at the center of this controversy asked for time to prepare their asylum case.
Reports have indicated that, not only has the President of Turkey jailed and humiliated members of the attempted coup, but he has also begun to shut down media outlets in the country. Hurriyet Daily News also stated that “Turkey has sacked or suspended around 80,000 people from the civil service, judiciary, police forces and courts following the attempted takeover.”