Turkish refugees pushed back from Greek shore by unidentified masked men: report

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AFP PHOTO

A group of Turkish asylum seekers claimed that following an attempt to cross the Turkish border via the Evros River in northeastern Greece on Friday evening, they were pushed back to the Turkish side after being beaten by masked men with batons, the IPA news agency reported.

Tuğba Özkan, a journalist in the group, told IPA News on the phone that the group of 15 people fleeing persecution in Turkey crossed the Turkish-Greek border on Friday at 9 p.m. near the town of Soufli.

When they set foot on Greek soil, however, she said a group of masked men beat them and pushed them back across the river to the Turkish side, where a post-coup crackdown targeting Gülen movement followers has led to the prosecution of over half a million people.

A family of four from the group reportedly was apprehended by Turkish security forces, and the parents were detained.

The remaining 11 people, including Özkan, attempted to cross the border for a second time.

The group managed to cross the Evros safely in their second attempt, she said, and the group was hiding from a possible attack when two Greek police cars found them.

Greek police detained the group at around 2 p.m. on Saturday near the border and took them into custody, according to the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), a nongovernmental organization defending human rights and fighting against illegal pushbacks in the region.

The group applied for asylum in Greece and is expected to be released in a few days after the official registration is completed, according to GCR lawyers.

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