Order points to rising US-Greek tensions

Tensions between Greece and the US grew Tuesday after Washington placed two convicted Greek guerrillas on a terrorism blacklist amid concerns that a third could soon be transferred from prison to house arrest under the conditions of a new prison law.

The State Department added November 17’s Christodoulos Xeros and Nikolaos Maziotis, the leader of Revolutionary Struggle, to the blacklist that freezes any assets they may have under US jurisdictions, in accordance with “Executive Order 13224.” With no practical repercussions, the move was rather a strong diplomatic gesture in the wake of Greece approving a new prison law that allows seriously disabled convicts to serve the rest of their sentence under house arrest while wearing a security bracelet, which has yet to be introduced in Greece. Another N17 convict, Savvas Xeros, could be moved to house arrest under the new law.

Government sources in Athens sought to ease concerns Tuesday by referring to a “slow process,” noting that a tender was to be launched for companies interested in undertaking the implementation of the security bracelet system in Greece. The sources added that “second thoughts” might slow the process down yet further.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias sought to play down the implications of the new law during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry, saying that the convicts affected by the provisions would not be freed but put under house arrest and fitted with a security bracelet. At the same press conference, Kerry had expressed concern. “Obviously, we’re very concerned that those who have committed acts of terrorism who’ve been incarcerated need to remain incarcerated.”

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