UK releases Greek ‘terrorist’

Athens expressed satisfaction at the British authorities’ decision yesterday to release, due to lack of evidence, a Greek man held for six weeks on terrorism charges associated with the November 17 group. «We are glad this case closed in a satisfactory way,» Foreign Minister George Papandreou told journalists. The arrest, on February 25 in Newcastle, and detention of Haralambos Dousemetzis, a 25-year-old former Northumbria University student who has lived in the UK for the past eight years, had drawn angry complaints from the Greek government. «Our main objection was that we had not been informed, and only found out [days after] through the local [English] press,» Papandreou said. Dousemetzis, who said he was interested in terrorist groups and planned to undertake postgraduate research on the subject, was charged with possessing articles that could be used to instigate, prepare or commission acts of terrorism. These were later identified as rubber stamps and a proclamation associated with N17. But yesterday prosecutors in Bedlington, northern England, said there was insufficient evidence to support the charges, which carried a maximum 10-year prison sentence. «My brother is very pleased,» Dousemetzis’s sister, Vassiliki – who lives with the rest of the family in Argos – told Kathimerini. «Only a few days ago, his appeal for release on bail had been rejected. Finally, following the intercession of the Foreign Ministry, he was freed. I do not know whether he proposes to stop his research, but obviously he cannot wait to come home.» She said Dousemetzis, who denied the charges, had been held in isolation. «Conditions were not ideal. He was in the wing for criminals serving long terms, on his own, and was not able to exercise in the prison yard for more than 20 minutes every day.»