NEWS

FBI chief and Greek officials discuss Athens 2004 security

FBI director Robert Mueller, on a one-day visit to Athens, discussed security for the 2004 Olympics with senior police and political officials yesterday. He also presented awards to five officials credited with the apparent breakup of the November 17 terrorist group last year. Mueller toured Olympic venues by helicopter and he met at the Public Order Ministry with Minister Giorgos Floridis, national police chief Fotis Nasiakos and National Intelligence Service chief Pavlos Apostolidis. Talks also focused on broader issues of cooperation, especially regarding the fight against international terrorism and the smuggling of people and narcotics. Mueller made no public statement, but The Associated Press, quoting sources briefed on the meetings, said he reinforced US calls to widen the scope of counterterrorism planning and called for more intelligence sharing. Later, state television channel NET said that after this week’s simulated anti-terrorism exercise at a US base in Stuttgart involving the seven countries helping organize security, it was likely that bilateral agreements would be signed. «It is quite possible that in the summer of 2004, during the Olympics, there will be aircraft carriers stationed in Mediterranean ports, or in international waters, ready to provide assistance if Greece requests it,» the report said. US agencies claim security for the Olympics has not fully assessed all risks, such as snipers and chemical or biological attacks. Deputy Defense Minister Lazaros Lotidis said Greece would be ready by next summer. Mueller also left open the possibility of further talks on Greece’s refusal to allow weapons for foreign security personnel during the Olympics, the AP’s sources said. The US plans to send about 100 agents to help protect the 800-strong US Olympic delegation. The FBI believes «a lot of work still needs to be done» before the Olympics, one source said. On Thursday, the State Department put it more diplomatically: «The Greeks have the will and the resources to hold a secure and successful Olympics, and we have every confidence they will.» Mueller gave awards to Nasiakos, Apostolidis, anti-terrorism squad chief Stelios Syros, crime lab chief Efstratios Kyriakakis and prosecutor Ioannis Diotis for helping break up N17. He presented an award to police Lt Gen Nikos Tasiopoulos for cooperating with the FBI on serious cases for many years.