Greek Court Rejects Extradition of Turk Wanted Over Links to Bombings

ATHENS (Reuters) -

A Greek court on Tuesday rejected a request by Ankara for the extradition of a man wanted over links to a banned terror group blamed for suicide bombings in Turkey, court officials said.

Naci Ozpolat, 48, a Turkish national of Kurdish origin, is one of nine people detained by Greece’s antiterrorism service in November, weeks before Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Greece in December. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Turkey wants three of them extradited over alleged links to a far-left group blamed for attacks and suicide bombings there since 1990.

Ozpolat told the court on Tuesday that Ankara accuses him of involvement in acts that occurred in Turkey while he was in custody in Germany and that it wants him back because he is “a revolutionary,” a court official said.

Following the ruling, he was transferred back to a Greek prison where he is being held pending trial on domestic charges including possession of firearms.

Greece has charged the nine detainees with setting up and belonging to a criminal organization, terrorist-related acts of supplying explosive materials, and with illegal possession of firearms, smoke bombs and firecrackers.

Last month, a Greek court ruled against the extradition of 60-year old Mehmet Dogan, saying he had been granted political asylum in France in 2011. That decision angered Turkey which accused Greek courts of protecting terrorists and acting in a way that “does not befit neighborly behavior.”

The two NATO allies, which almost went to war in 1996, have seen renewed diplomatic strain over natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean and the fate of eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece after a failed coup in Turkey.

Two Greek soldiers were detained last week after crossing the border into Turkey in bad weather.