NEWS

Claim of CIA help rocks opposition party

The main opposition New Democracy party has been rocked since a former senior aide of former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis claimed in a televised interview on Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency had offered and provided help to defeat the ruling PASOK party in elections in 1988. Party officials have scrambled to discredit retired Gen. Nikos Gryllakis, who was Mitsotakis’s closest aide on intelligence issues and personal envoy to other countries. Mitsotakis, who is New Democracy’s honorary chairman, himself called Gryllakis’s claim a figment of the imagination. The government and the general secretary of PASOK, however, have seized the opportunity to declare the claim a major political issue with which they have attacked New Democracy and Mitsotakis and his family in particular. I don’t want to say whether what Mr Gryllakis has revealed is true or not, acting government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris said yesterday. I want to stress, though, that from the position he held Mr Gryllakis knew many things. Hytiris sought also to explain why the government had picked up on the issue so strongly. Mr Mitsotakis is an active politician. He is the honorary chairman of New Democracy. New Democracy is the official opposition party and today it has a leader, Mr Costas Karamanlis, who is maintaining a guilty silence, which means that he approves if he does not speak. This Mr Karamanlis seeks to become the country’s prime minister with this party which committed whatever it committed. It is the same party, the same cadres, Hytiris said. Mitsotakis yesterday accused PASOK’s general secretary, Costas Laliotis, of trying to recycle old mud by raising the issue that Mitsotakis, Gryllakis and many other members of New Democracy had been indicted by Parliament for alleged wiretapping during the 1990-93 conservative government. In the summer of 1994, Parliament’s investigative committee for the wiretaps had sent the case to the Special Supreme Court. At the last moment, PASOK, knowing that the conspiracy would collapse, revoked the charge despite my persistence that ‘What you are doing is immoral,’ as I said at the time. But Gryllakis’s claims yesterday prompted an Athenian television station to claim that the CIA had provided Mitsotakis with prior warning before November 17 terrorists killed his son-in-law, Pavlos Bakoyiannis, a member of Parliament, in September 1989. Mitsotakis called this a wretched insinuation, adding, When you can’t find the killers at least show respect to the victims and their families. Senior New Democracy officials yesterday continued to express disdain for Gryllakis and his claim. Prokopis Pavlopoulos said it was a sign of the government’s desperation that it would pick up such claims to hide its own failures. Vyron Polydoras, the Mitsotakis government’s spokesman, said: I was surprised by those fiction-like claims and by the reason they were made. He suggested Gryllakis was trying to create publicity for a book he has written. On Wednesday, Laliotis had called Gryllakis’s claims a bomb with a slow-burning fuse, not only for the past but mainly for the present and the future of Mr Mitsotakis and his family, for the present and future of New Democracy and its cadres. Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday: This is a very big issue. It raises the question whether in 1989 New Democracy and its leader colluded with the secret services of other countries to overturn the country’s democratic government.