ATHENS/ANKARA: Greece has arrested eight men aboard a Turkish military helicopter which landed in the northern city of Alexandroupolis at midday on Saturday, the country’s defense and police ministries said.
Turkey’s Dogan news agency said the eight — two majors, a captain and five privates — have requested asylum in Greece.
Greece's defense ministry, however, said the eight were arrested for illegal entry into Greece. The ministry said the Blackhawk military helicopter carrying the coup plotters gave a distress signal at 10:45 a.m. local time and landed six minutes later.
Greek state television ERT said the men may have been involved in Turkey’s military uprising on Friday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey has demanded the extradition of officers from Greece, NTV television reported.
“We have demanded the immediate return of the eight treacherous officers who fled to Greece by helicopter,” Cavusoglu was quoted by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency as saying.
Meanwhile, a Turkish group opposed to the government has taken over a frigate at Turkey's Golcuk naval base and the head of the Turkish fleet is being held hostage, a senior Greek military source told Reuters on Saturday.
A total of 2,839 members of Turkey’s military have been detained in connection with an attempted coup overnight, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday, adding that those detained included ordinary soldiers and high-ranking officers. Yildirim, in a news conference in the capital Ankara, said the situation was fully under control and that “our commanders” were in charge of the military. He called on Turkish citizens to fill town and city squares with flags on Saturday evening and said parliament would meet at 1200 GMT to discuss the attempt. Yildirim warned that any country that stands by the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen will not be a friend of Turkey and will be considered at war with the NATO member. The government said that followers of Gulen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States for years, were behind the attempted coup by a faction of the military on Friday.
Turkish President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Gulen of trying to build a “parallel structure” within the judiciary, education system, media and military as a way to overthrow the state, a charge the cleric denies.