ATHENS: The co-pilot of a helicopter, who flew seven other Turkish military officers to Greece a day after last year s failed coup in Turkey, has been granted asylum, a Greek judicial source said on Saturday.
The co-pilot landed in the Greek city of Alexandroupoli, not far from the Turkish border, hours after the putsch was defeated on July 15 2016, and had denied being part of the coup attempt.
The decision by Greek asylum authorities is a blow to Ankara, which has repeatedly requested for the co-pilot to be extradited, but the judges ruled that his human rights would be at risk.
They took into account reports from human rights groups and the Council of Europe, according to the source, that warned Turkey has regularly committed human rights abuses against coup suspects.
Despite Turkey s assertions, the judges said there was no evidence to suggest the co-pilot had participated in the failed coup.
A ruling on the seven other military officers will be made in the coming weeks.
The decision follows a Greek Supreme Court ruling in January that blocked the extradition of the officers, saying that they would not have a fair trial in Turkey.
The case has caused tension between the two NATO allies; the Turkish foreign ministry previously said failure to extradite the group could have an impact on its ties with Athens, including cooperation in the fight against terrorism and other regional issues.
More than 140,000 people including judges, lawyers, journalists and academics have been sacked or suspended in Turkey since the failed coup, while some 55,000 people have been arrested over suspected links to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey claims Gulen ordered the attempted coup, something he denies.