A Turkish helicopter with seven people on board landed in Alexandroupolis in north-eastern Greece close to borders with Turkey, on Saturday morning. According to preliminary information the helicopter sent out a distress signal at 11:45 am citing problems in the engine. It landed in Alexandroupolis airport at 11:51.
Passengers are reportedly seven people in uniform and one civilian.
The helicopter is a Sikorsky BlackHawk and belongs to Turkish police.
According to military affairs website OnAlert.gr and state broadcaster ERT, the passengers are most likely coup-attempters who fled Turkey to escape arrest, after the government cracked down the Coup attempts.
Police vehicles have rushed to the airport, a pair of F-16 fighter jets have been flying over the area for support.
UPDATE 1: ERT TV reports that the passengers belong to Turkish military and have been arrested by Greek police as they illegally entered Greece. They asked for asylum.
Turkish military… Police helicopter… this could be Jandarmerie?
UPDATE 2: ERT TV: 7 helicopter passengers wearing uniforms had removed uniform insignia. It looks as if they were involved in the coup.
Turkey has asked the return of the helicopter, a request currently examined by the Greek General Staff. Most probably the helicopter will be returned as soon as possible.
According to latest ERT TV information, “the helicopter belongs to Turkish Air Force” and not to Police as initially reported.
Greek authorities from Interior and Foreign Ministry are about to examine the passengers’ request for asylum.
The passengers are reportedly “3 majors, 3 captains and 2 sergeants.”
They have been arrested upon landing for “illegally entering Greece.”
Logically and diplomatically, the 8 will stand trial for illegally entering Greece and will be sent back to Turkey together with the helicopter. Or the helicopter will return earlier. Or something like that.
Their asylum will be rejected on the ground that they lied in order to land at Alexandroupolis airport as they sent “mayday”, while they were involved in actions aiming to topple an elected government.
I don’t think that Greece would like to be involved into “Turkey’s internal issues.”