N17 head suggests government knew of Xeros's escape plans

Alexandros Giotopoulos, the 70-year-old convicted leader of the November 17 terrorist organization who is currently serving 17 consecutive life sentences, sent a letter to the Athens-based Eleftherotypia daily on Tuesday in which he suggests that the escape of Chrystodoulos Xeros - a fellow N17 convict who failed to return from prison leave earlier this month and who on Monday vowed to return to armed action - happened with the knowledge of the government and intelligence services.

"Why was he given a free pass to go wherever he wanted, to the head guard's office, to the Cells, the most important convicts?" Giotopoulos said, referring to reports showing that 55-year-old Xeros had paid frequent visits in Korydallos Prison to convicted members of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire terrorist group in the period leading up to his escape.

"Who gave the order?" Giotopoulos continues. "Not, of course, the director or some guard. They don't have that kind of authority nor would they take on such a responsibility.

"The order came from above. From the counter-terrorism unit, from the National Intelligence Service (EYP) and therefore from the government that oversees it," Giotopoulos said.

Giotopoulos suggests that while other convicted terrorist were kept under close surveillance by counter-terrorism officers while of furlough, Xeros "had no one" keeping an eye on him, saying that authorities, including the CIA, "did nothing" to prevent his escape.

On Monday, Xeros posted a video and a letter on the Internet heralding his return to terrorism and appealing to members of leftist and anarchist guerrilla groups to unite in armed action in protest against ongoing austerity in Greece.