- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) - The eight Turkish military personnel who fled to Greece last week aboard a helicopter after last week’s failed coup in their country are being transferred to Athens, one of their lawyers said Friday.

Menia Polychroni, one of three lawyers representing the eight in the northeastern city of Alexandroupolis, said the legal team found out unofficially that their clients were being transported to Athens Friday, and had confirmed the information with authorities.

Turkey is seeking the extradition of the eight, who received two-month suspended prison sentences in Greece Thursday for illegal entry into the country. All eight - six helicopter pilots and two engineers - deny any involvement in last Friday’s attempted coup and have applied for asylum in Greece.

They say they fear for their lives if returned to Turkey amid a widespread purge in the aftermath of the failed coup.

Polychroni criticized the transfer, for which authorities have not given a reason, saying it would hamper their access to legal advice.

“This creates a big problem in their communications with their lawyers, as we already have an appointment in Alexandroupolis on Wednesday for interviews on their asylum applications,” Polychroni told The Associated Press.

Authorities have not said where in Athens the eight were being taken to.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record on the subject, said it was possible the asylum interviews could be conducted in Athens instead of in Alexandroupolis.

The eight had landed in Alexandroupolis early Saturday, issuing a mayday call and requesting permission for an emergency landing, which they were granted. Police have said they were unarmed and surrendered immediately upon landing, and asked for political asylum.

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