Thirty-two Turkish citizens including academics, teachers and doctors have applied for asylum in Greece after being detained by Greek Maritime Security forces on an Aegean island where they arrived illegally, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Saturday, based on a report by the Greek Kathimerini daily.
In a similar development, a former police chief identified as E.S. was detained along with his wife and two children while they were allegedly on their way to escape to Greece, Anadolu reported on Saturday.
Anadolu said on Friday that at least 12 people were detained near the Turkish-Greek border in the western province of Edirne.
According to a September report in Kathimerini, at least 995 Turkish citizens have applied for refugee protection in Greece after fleeing a post-coup crackdown at home.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government accuse the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.
Despite the movement strongly denying involvement in the failed coup, Erdoğan launched a witch-hunt targeting the movement following the attempt.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 12 that 55,665 people had been jailed and 234,419 passports revoked as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Soylu on Nov. 16 had said 48,739 people had been jailed and eight holdings and 1,020 companies seized as part of operations against the movement.
The Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016 through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency.
Amid the crackdown, many people attempted illegal entry into Greece, with some arrested near the border and, on some occasions, drowning in the Evros River, the border between the two countries.
The president on Saturday called on people to not show mercy to the movement, saying the pitiful will be pitied:
“I am calling on those who are part of this structure [Gülen movement]. Will you still not leave it? I am saying this clearly: if you are pitiful, you will be pitied. There are thousands in prison.”