Terrorism charges brought against nine Turkish nationals arrested in Athens

The nine Turkish nationals, eight men and one woman, arrested by Greek authorities in Athens were brought before a public prosecutor on Wednesday and charged with a series of terrorism-related offences.

Taken into custody following a major police operation in the Athens districts of Neos Kosmos and Kallithea on Tuesday, the suspects are alleged to be members of the militant Turkish party Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), which is classed as a terrorist group in the EU, US and Turkey. According to the charges against them, they were planning an attack on Turkish President Recep Tayyip during his visit to Greece on December 6-7.

The nine were charged with forming and joining a terrorist organisation, acquisition and possession of explosive materials and bombs as an act of terrorism, illegal possession of hand-guns, ammunition and explosives as an act of terrorism, forgery and use of fake public documents, resisting arrest, illegal weapons possession (for knives that were confiscated) and illegal possession of fire crackers and smoke canisters.

They have now been referred to a regular examining magistrate and are expected to request additional time to prepare their statements. Meanwhile, the public prosecutor is due to issue an order allowing details of their identity to be made public.

According to their lawyers Aleka Zorbala and Yianna Kourtovik, their clients are all refugees that have either sought or been given asylum and they deny any connection to terrorism. The two lawyers also suggested that their arrest was “a gift or sign of goodwill” by Greece’s government ahead of Erdogan’s visit. Some 15 leftist activists were waiting outside the public prosecutor’s office as they were brought in, holding a banner and shouting slogans in their support.

The lawyers disputed the evidence found by police in the apartments occupied by the nine, noting that much of it were ordinary household items that could be found in any home, while their clients deny any knowledge of the hand-guns confiscated by police. The suspects also made accusations claiming police brutality during their time in custody.