February 20, 2018 / 12:29 PM / 8 months ago

Seventeen Turks land on Greek beach; media say they seek asylum

ATHENS (Reuters) - Seventeen Turkish nationals landed on a beach on a Greek island close to Turkey on Monday, a coastguard official said, and Greek media said they had asked for political asylum.

The group were rescued from a beach on the small Aegean island of Oinousses, less than 10 miles from Turkey’s western coast and next to Greece’s Chios island, a gateway for thousands of refugees and migrants to Europe.

Skai TV, without citing sources, said the group of seven men, four women and six children included teachers who feared persecution in the political crackdown in Turkey that has followed a failed coup attempt in 2016. Other media said the group included judges and civil servants.

The senior coastguard official, who declined to be named, said the Turks would be transferred to Athens in the coming days.

Authorities would not comment on whether they had sought political asylum.

Since the coup attempt, Turkey has detained thousands of soldiers, state workers and judges and prosecutors. It is estimated that several hundred have fled to Greece.

The case of eight Turkish soldiers who flew a helicopter to northern Greece a day after the attempted coup has strained relations between Greece and Turkey, which has repeatedly branded the men “traitors” and demanded their extradition.

Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; editing by Andrew Roche

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