Erdogan Tells Tsipras He Wants Turkish Asylum Soldiers Extradited

FILE - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, center, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China Saturday, May 13, 2017. (Jason Lee/Pool Photo via AP)

BEIJING – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras a Greek court’s refusal to extradite eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece after a failed coup against him was wrong.

Citing an unnamed Presidential source, the Anadolu News Agency said Erdogan made the remarks during his meeting with Tsipras on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

The Turkish president told the Greek premier the non-extradition was “a problem” between the two countries and termed the ongoing stay of the ex-soldiers in Greece as “incorrect,” the news agency said.

He also asked the prime minister to take necessary steps to resolve the issue, the source said, although the courts are out of Tsipras’ jurisdiction. The officers said they were not involved in the coup and fled for their lives. Erdogan is seeking the death penalty after quelling the coup and being granted near-dictatorial powers in an April 16 referendum.

On May 4, a Greek appeals court rejected the extradition of two former Turkish soldiers, joining six others whose extradition was similarly denied.

The ruling meant that Greek courts had rejected the extradition of all eight ex-soldiers who fled Turkey soon after the collapse of last July’s coup attempt, which left 249 people dead nearly 2,200 injured.

The former soldiers are accused of being involved in the foiled coup, which Turkey says was masterminded by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and the group’s leader, U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen. They denied all charges and critics said Erdogan is scapegoating Gulen.