NEWS

WikiLeaks reveals US concern about immigration in Greece

Parliament yesterday began debating a bill that foresees the creation of an independent body to deal with asylum applications rather than the police.

Also yesterday, the Guardian newspaper published on its website extracts from US Embassy cables leaked by WikiLeaks in which US Ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard expressed concern that ?special-interest aliens? such as Iraqi insurgents could be smuggled to the United States via Greece?s highly porous border with Turkey.

He also noted in his dispatch to Washington that there were fears that disillusioned young Muslims might become radicalized in basement prayer rooms in Greece.

The Guardian reported that in one of a number of cables reflecting intense US interest in immigration in the region, the US ambassador in Athens warned in December 2009 that the large number of migrants entering into Greece posed risks, citing the example of Greece’s deportation of an Iraqi insurgent commander five months earlier.

Speckhard said that Frontex had increased the number of air patrols and maritime observers in the Aegean during the year but added: «The Greeks haven’t been able to change the dynamics on the ground.?

He went on to comment on the role of neighbouring Turkey in a cable sent in February last year, stating: «The biggest problem is along Greece’s eastern border, since Turkey is not making any meaningful effort to stop the flow of illegal immigrants across both the land and sea borders.”

The Greek government said this month that it will be erecting a 12.5-kilometer fence along the Evros border in northeastern Greece in a bid to prevent immigrants entering the country illegally.

The bill on the asylum agency seeks to create an independent body to handle all applications, rather than the police who are currently in charge of the process.