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MI6: Kidnap and torture in Athens?

by talos Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 09:18:03 AM EST

Update [2005-12-14 19:10:22 by talos]:: The Athens daily Eleftherotypia notes today how the case remained stuck between DA and police for nearly five months, while magically the legal brief reached the police just a day after the BBC report. The Greek authorities claim that all of this never happened thus suggesting that the kidnappings were staged - though a motive for such a scam isn't offered - while Jack Straw apparently dismissed the allegations as "complete nonsense". Anyway the Greek government also recently denied any knowledge of CIA flights through Athens, so it's not like they have a great record of openness about things like this... Precisely because of the procedural delay and the fact that none of the abducted Pakistanis had been called to testify, Ragoussis, their lawyer, reported the issue to Parliament, as was his right. However this had been brought to Parliament, no less than four times since August, by Synaspismos, a small leftist parliamentary party. The newspaper has conflicting reports on the language spoken by the abductors of the immigrants, yet one of the kidnapped Pakistanis claims that most of his captors spoke Greek and only the two people that looked as if they were in charge spoke English.

This story is just breaking, and the Greek media are pointing to a BBC report that I couldn't find on its site yet, but which is carried by the Times today:
A leading Greek lawyer will today present a dossier to parliament in Athens of the treatment of 28 detainees by MI6 officers. Frangiscos Ragoussis alleges that the detainees were hooded and held in secret.

The men, all of Pakistani origin, claim that they were threatened by two British agents who warned them that their families in Greece and the UK would suffer also if they dared complain about their treatment.

Reports first surfaced about these events in the Greek press this past August, so the Times' claim that:

The late night raids on addresses in Athens and the northern town of Ioannina came a week after the London bombings but have only now come to light because of Mr Ragoussis's intervention.

...is not really accurate: the Athens daily Eleftherotypia (among others) carried the story on the 18th of August (link here in Greek). Excerpts (quickly translated from that report):

Seven alien residents, six of Pakistani descent and one Kashmiri, charged that they were abducted by foreign secret services in Athens, were interrogated and then freed blindfolded in the center of Athens...

This sensational story took place allegedly on July 15th, a few days after the Al Qaida strike in London. The immigrants were held for periods ranging from 48 hours to 7 days (two of them were freed on July 22) ...

...The Greek police and the antiterrorist service, under the jurisdiction of which this case would fall, have stated that they were unaware of these events. This as the approximately 11.500 Pakistanis living in Athens are terrorized, having already on their shoulders the "damning evidence" of their nationality and religion...

[This happens] a few days after the revelation that a classified message from Scotland Yard reached the Ministry of Public Order, through which a young Pakistani male was interrogated - suspected of having ties with Al Qaida.

Javed Aslam, president of the Pakistani community in Greece, in a legal complaint to the Greek judicial authorities, officially denounces the methods of "interrogation" of his compatriots that are reminiscent of undemocratic regimes. He claimed that:

  • On 15.07.05 around 11 pm, unidentified persons who claimed to be policemen, raided the home of seven immigrants in [the down-town area of] Petralona "without the DA being present, without a warrant and with no explanation... "after they were blindfolded they were led to an unknown location as the house was searched".

  • Their employer, noticing their absence, queried the nearby police station, where officers told him that "they are not held here nor anyone knows anything about them". On July 16 and 17, along with his lawyer, he visited all the area's precincts, the immigration office, the police and internal security headquarters, with no result. The 7 immigrants had disappeared and the authorities claimed ignorance...

  • "On Sunday the 17th" - as the complaint states - "5 of the persons abducted were "freed" in the dark alleys around Omonia [one of Athens' central squares]. They were blindfolded again and they had been threatened not to take their blindfolds off until after 5 minutes had passed. From these terrorized immigrants we learned that the "interrogation" they were subjected to concerned the recent bomb attacks in London"

  • Because two of the immigrants remained under arrest, the two lawyers [one of which is the lawyer that has brought charges to parliament today] visited the antiterrorist service on July 21, to receive the same reply: "we know nothing about this"! The following day and in the same dramatic fashion the two remaining detainees were released"

The claim concludes demanding that "an investigation in depth be held to uncover the Greek or foreign, overt or clandestine secret services responsible for these events and to launch criminal charges. Especially since those abducted are terrorized and were forbidden by their captors to make any statements or take any action. All of us live in insecurity and terror, since the incident is well known in our community and we all feel as potential targets of these clearly terrorist actions. These "unidentified" police officers trampled on the Constitution and breached democratic guarantees and human rights"

I'll be following the story as it unfolds... [cross-posted from histologion]

Does the Eleftherotypia mention the British in any way (abductors/interrogators) - or is at least this detail a new development?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 01:38:27 PM EST
No, the Eleftherotypia story implies that these were somehow connected with British investigations, but doesn't mention the nationality of the interrogators - although it is suggested that these were foreign secret service agents... A TV show on the same story suggested that these people were connected with the CIA/MI6...

The Greek government is denying any knowledge of this. Check out also this Reuters report.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 01:56:27 PM EST
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