Sixty-six of Greece’s best known academics, authors, and journalists have signed a petition blasting the Greek government’s petition to annul the asylum granted to a Turkish officer, noting that the competent appellate asylum committee ruled that he had no involvement in the coup attempt against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and that the prosecution against them is political.

The list of well known figures includes former European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros, author Alki Zei, Oxford University professors Stathis Kalyvas and Pavlos Eleftheriadis, long-time Benaki Museum director (retired) Angelos Delivorias, film director Tasos Boulmetis, actor Antonis Kafetzopoulos, and law professor emeritus and Academy of Athens member Michalis Stathopoulos.

The full text of the petition is a follows:

“The Appellate Asylum Committee decided on 29 December, 2017 – following an exhaustive and meticulous process, during which it reviewed all available data and took into account information from Greek and foreign specialists and experts – to recognise the status of international protection (“granting of political asylum”) to the first of eight Turkish military officers who submitted asylum applications, when they reached our country in July, 2016. The rulings of the Appellate Asylum Committee regarding the remaining seven are expected soon.

The decision of the committee notes that the officer who applied for asylum, just as his seven colleagues, had no participation whatsoever in the coup attempt in Turkey, and they did not commit inhuman or punishable acts. Consequently, they are being prosecuted by the regime only because of their political convictions, and they are entitled to protection as refugees by Greece, where they fled.

Despite this fact, however, the Government of Greece, acting in an unprecedented manner, intervened in the independent judiciary, requesting annulment of the ruling, and indeed asking that the annulment be expedited with all available means, such as an application for suspension and a temporary injunction.

With this action, the government is violating the institutionalised values of human rights. It is these values that the Appellate Committee upheld in an exemplary manner, acting in absolute accord with recent rulings regarding the case of the Areios Pagos [Greek Supreme Court], and following international jurisprudence and the views of top international organisations.

We believe that the challenge to the ruling filed by the governmental petition for annulment violates the European acquis regarding protection of the rule of law and humanitarianism. It is not only legally, but also morally, reprehensible.

We, the undersigned, declare our trust in the legal prudence, the knowledge, and the morality of Greek judges, and we deeply believe that once again they will honour their mission with their rulings, just as they have done at all stages of this case, which is so important for Greek and European legal culture.»