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32 Turks rescued in Greek waters, reportedly seeking asylum

Greek media say the Turks involved are opponents of Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party
Turkish warship and coast guard helicopter patrol Aegean Sea between Turkish coast and Greece's Lesbos island (AFP)

Thirty-two Turkish nationals, reportedly opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, were rescued by a patrol boat in the Aegean Sea, the Greek coastguard said on Saturday.

The group was spotted in a rubber dinghy off the Greek island of Oinousses early on Friday, the coastguard told AFP.

Greek media said the 32 Turks are opponents of Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) and would be seeking asylum in Greece. The reports have not been confirmed by Greek authorities.  

They were taken to the island of Chios, where migrants and refugees crossing the area, often from Turkey, are registered and identified.

A man believed to be a smuggler who was also on board the boat was arrested by police.

Erdogan last month made the first visit by a Turkish head of state to its neighbour and sometimes ally Greece in 65 years. 

Turkey is unhappy that Greece has failed to extradite suspects wanted over the 2016 failed coup, notably eight officers who escaped by helicopter on the putsch night.

However, the two countries are cooperating on the migrant crisis, after a deal between Turkey and the EU that has significantly stemmed the flow of people to Europe.

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