Eight Turkish soldiers who applied for asylum in Greece after fleeing Turkey following a coup attempt in July must remain under temporary police custody, an Athens court ruled Wednesday.
The political and judicial tug-of-war between Ankara and Athens over the soldiers has been ongoing since the eight landed in the Greek port city of Alexandroupolis in an army helicopter after a failed putsch against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on July 15.
The Turkish government quickly crushed the attempted putsch and has since fired or suspended tens of thousands of people from the military and civil service.
In January, a top Greek court rejected Turkey's request for the soldiers' extradition, ruling that the two majors, four captains and two sergeants were unlikely to receive a fair trial in Turkey.
The latest ruling means the absconding soldiers must remain in detention for security reasons as long as their asylum applications are being processed.
The soldiers had asked to be released during the procedure, insisting that they committed no crime.
State radio ERT reported that a decision on their asylum requests will not likely be reached before April.
The incident inflamed poor relations between the Aegean neighbours, who have been locked negotiations over the divided island of Cyprus, which has been partitioned since a Greek coup d'etat and a Turkish military intervention in 1974.