Mayor opposes street cameras for Olympics

The mayor of a suburb that will host the Olympic weightlifting event said yesterday that he ordered crews to vandalize street security cameras after residents complained they violated their privacy. Mayor Stelios Benetatos said municipal workers disabled three surveillance cameras with spray paint in the western Athens suburb of Nikaia. He said residents «don’t want everything they do being recorded» without their permission. It was the first direct act of defiance against the thousands of cameras being installed around Athens to bolster security for the Aug. 13-29 Games. But at least two other suburban mayors have expressed concern about the cameras. Critics complain the surveillance cameras may not come down after the Olympics. Protests against the cameras and security have already taken place in Athens and in the northern port city of Thessaloniki which will host soccer preliminaries. «These cameras were placed without permission… and we are worried about the privacy of our citizens,» Benetatos told AP. He claimed no laws were violated by the town’s action because the two bodies responsible for the cameras – the police and Public Works Ministry – had not sought the town’s go-ahead. «We had told them not to place them without our permission,» said Benetatos, who also led protests last year accusing the government of reneging on promises to upgrade his debt-ridden town. The Olympic organizing committee had no comment and said the government was responsible for the cameras. There also was no immediate comment from the government. During the Olympics, stationary cameras around Athens will operate from 1,250 concrete columns 12 meters (39 feet) tall. Hundreds of cameras will also be installed at venues and other points around the city – in addition to surveillance equipment on helicopters and a blimp.

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