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Concern Over Greek Terrorist

Christodoulos Xiros, center, is escorted by police officers in this Thursday, March 6, 2003 file photo.

The United States is deeply concerned over the whereabouts of a convicted Greek terrorist.

The United States is deeply concerned over the whereabouts of a convicted Greek terrorist.

Concern Over Greek Terrorist
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Christodoulos Xiros failed to report to prison authorities while he was on furlough in Greece over the New Year holiday. Mr. Xiros, aged 56, is a key member of the far-left terrorist organization November 17, which was first established in Greece in 1975.

Before it was dismantled in 2002, the group was responsible for 23 assassinations of Greek public figures and foreign diplomats – including five U.S. embassy staff members – as well as dozens of bombings. The United States designated the group a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.

Mr. Xiros was sentenced to multiple life terms in Athens for his part in the terrorist attacks. His lawyer Frangiskos Ragousis, told Skai [sky] Television
that he believed his client’s escape was “fully in tune with his political activity.”

The United States rejects any inference that acts of terrorism constitute “political activity.”

Prison furloughs are allowed in Greece under certain conditions after a felon has served a number of years, and the law does not differentiate between a terrorist and other prisoners. The Greek government has announced the policy on furloughs will be reviewed and ordered a preliminary disciplinary investigation against the members of the prison board who approved Xiros’ leave.

Last month, unknown attackers sprayed the German Ambassador’s residence in Athens with gunfire. In addition, Greece is in the international spotlight particularly at this time because the country has just assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union.

At a press briefing, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki noted that the United States is engaged with Greek officials concerning Christodoulos Xiros, and urged the Greek government to locate him and return him to prison.

“The United States and Greece are partners in combating terrorism in all its forms,” she said, “and we work closely with Greek authorities in confronting those who use violence to seek to achieve their goals.”