Greek authorities brought terrorism charges Wednesday against nine suspected left-wing militants from Turkey, who were arrested during a series of raids in Athens ahead of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
An Athens prosecutor also charged the eight men and one woman with offences including alleged arms and explosives possession, forgery and resisting arrest.
The eight were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of links with the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, which is deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Police said a search of their residences uncovered detonators, a handgun and materials easily available on the market that could potentially be used to make explosives.
About 20 Kurdish protesters gathered outside the Athens courthouse where the suspects were charged, holding banners and shouting slogans against their detention.
Defense lawyer Aleka Zorbala said her clients deny the charges, and linked their arrests with Erdogan’s scheduled Dec. 7-8 visit.
“They believe that their arrest … is directly connected with the coming visit. They see it as a goodwill gesture, a gift, from the Greek government to Mr. Erdogan,” she said.
“They see themselves as people who are struggling against a fascist regime, as they call the Turkish regime, and against the thousands of arrests and disappearances in Turkey and Kurdistan.”
Zorbala said she has not yet been allowed access to the police and court documents concerning her clients, and charged that they had been subjected to violence during their arrest and detention.
“They were beaten in my presence outside the prosecutor’s office by at least 25 members of the terror squad,” she said. “They have been severely injured, even in the head, and had to go to hospital to get stitches.”