The leaders of the elusive November 17 terrorist group are now in their sixties and respected members of Greek society, a former American ambassador to Athens has claimed, adding that he had given the Greek government valuable data on the leftist group that was ignored. In statements aired on a Mega TV program yesterday, Thomas Niles – who headed the US diplomatic mission to Athens between 1993 and 1997 – implied that a man he suspected of being November 17’s leader had served in the state sector at some point. Ruling out the possibility of the terrorists being so intelligent and the police so obtuse that no November 17 member has been arrested in the group’s 26 years of action, Niles said some element in the system had managed to hinder any progress in tackling terrorism. Niles also asserted that, in 1995, he provided Athens with a very good analysis of the group’s pamphlets, including a guess at their author. Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said the claims did not merit a response. But an Athens court cleared Lesperoglou last month, after a series of prosecution witnesses either refused to testify or retracted their initial testimonies of 16 years ago.