Greek soldiers accused of spying return to home after released by Turkish court

The two soldiers arrive at Thessaloniki airport - Via eKathimerini

A Turkish court on Tuesday released two Greek soldiers held in a Turkish prison for more than five months, pending their trial on espionage charges.

The soldiers had been apprehended after crossing the Greek -Turkish border in early March. They told Turkish authorities they had lost their way due to heavy snow and fog before straying over the land border by mistake.

The soldiers will be tried without being held in detention. The trial date has not yet been set. They returned to Greece on Wednesday where they were met by Greece’s defence minister and army chief of staff.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a statement said:  “The release of the two Greek officers is an act of justice which will contribute to friendship, good neighbourly relations and stability in the region,”

The European Union had backed Greece in the dispute, condemning the detention of the soldiers and calling for their release.

The unexpected release of the two men comes as Turkey is engulfed in a bitter dispute with the United States over the release of a US citizen held in Turkey,  which has seen the Turkish lira plunged to record lows.