Amidst a popular backlash against the government’s appeal of the political asylum granted to a Turkish officer accused of participating in the coup against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Administrative Appellate Court of Athens temporarily suspended the officer’s asylum status.

Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas had filed on behalf of the government the application to freeze the officer’s asylum status, a move which many interpreted as Athens bowing to the strong, very public pressure from Erdogan.

The officer was co-pilot of a helicopter carrying eight Turkish officers who came to Alexandroupolis after the aborted coup, in which all eight deny involvement.

The appellate asylum committee found no evidence of his participation in the coup. His colleagues’ asylum applications are pending.

Citing “the public interest”, presumably a reference to the impact of the case on Greek-Turkish relations, and the interest of the officer himself, court president Evgenia Mylonopoulos today granted the government’s petition for a temporary injunction, suspending the asylum granted the officer by the Third Independent Appellate Committee on Asylum.

Government blocked from extraditing officer

The temporary injunction also states that the government and state will refrain from any action aiming to remove the officer from Greek territory.

He was transported to an incarceration area at the site of the former Olympic Village, as an administrative prisoner.

The officer has been remanded in custody pending the adjudication of the government’s petition to annul the asylum granted him, on 15 February.

His final recourse will be an appeal to the Council of State, if his asylum is not upheld next month.