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Society

Fleeing Persecution, Turks, Kurdish Dissidents Caught Near Greek Island

While five Greek islands near the Turkish coast are the favorite destination for refugees and migrants, dozens who identified themselves as Turks or Kurds were found among 65 passengers on a boat near Greece's western Peloponnese.

The website ilialive.gr said a fishing boat called Nemo was found by the Greek Coast Guard off the coast of Zakynthos but then taken to the port of Katakolo in the Ilia region for processing.

Among the migrants were 20 Turkish police officers who said they were supporters of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, academics, a lawmaker and a journalist, as well as 10 Kurds members of the PKK, the same report said.

The rest were – mainly Kurdish – migrants from Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the report, they all said they eventually want to continue their journey to other European Union countries which has closed its borders to migrants and refugees, dumping the problem largely on Greece.

The migrants were questioned by intelligence officials who sought to determine their identities, the report said, as police officers in Athens arrested three Turkish nationals for carrying fake Greek identity cards. 

They too told police they were Gulenists whose supporters Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said were behind a failed July, 2016 coup and assassination attempt against him.

In 2016, eight Turkish military officers and servicemen landed a helicopter in Greece near the border with Turkey and said they were fleeing persecution as Erodgan purged the armed forces. They then sought asylum in Greece.

Also in the Peloponnese, a resident of Tajikistan sought by Interpol as a suspected member of the terrorist group ISIS was arrested and expected to be deported after facing a prosecutor in Naufplio, said Kathimerii.

Despite believed a terrorist, he was not identified and was said to have been caught during a random stop-and-search encounter with officers near the town of Tripoli, during which authorities discovered that Interpol had issued a Red Notice, a high-priority international warrant, for his arrest.

That came a few days after Austria admitted it had not followed up on a report from police in Slovakia that a man suspected of a terror attack in Vienna had tried to buy a gun and fears that terrorists could be hiding among refugees and migrants in Greek camps.

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