US chides Greece over Koufodinas furlough, delays in new ID cards


Greece remained “a cooperative counterterrorism partner in 2017,” the US State Department said in its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” published on Wednesday, but went on to slam the decision to grant prison leave to convicted terrorist  Dimitris Koufodinas and delays in issuing new biometric identification cards.

“Over the objections of the US government, the prison council of Greece’s high-security prison for the first time granted convicted terrorist Dimitris Koufontinas a two-day furlough November 9-11. Koufontinas is serving 11 life sentences plus 25 years for the murder of 11 people and his leadership role in the terrorist group November 17 that targeted and assassinated members of the US Mission to Greece, as well as British and Turkish diplomats, Greek politicians, and Greek citizens,” the report said.

The State Department was also critical of Greece's failure to curb illegal migration from its borders into other parts of the European Union by moving ahead with new identification cards that are less vulnerable to alteration and photo substitution than the present kind. “It has not incorporated certain security features, such as a digitized photo and biometrics,” the report said, after referring to increased internal controls implemented by Germany in November 2017 on passengers coming from Greece, but also stepped up checks by Belgian border authorities.

“The porous nature of Greece’s borders remained a concern, particularly given the challenge the refugee and migration crisis presents in Greece. Six of the individuals responsible for the 2016 attacks in Paris and Brussels passed through Greece,” the report stressed.

On the issue of terrorist incidents, the State Department report pointed to a spate of letter bomb attacks carried out by the urban guerrilla group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire against targets in Greece and abroad that resulted in the serious injury of former prime minister Lucas Papademos in May 2017 and in the light injury of a staff member at the International Monetary Fund in Paris. It also referred to attacks carried out by local far-left militant groups Revolutionary Solidarity and Popular Fighters.

It went on to praise Greece for responding to the domestic terrorist threat with several high-profile arrests, including those of Paula Roupa, a leading member of Revolutionary Struggle, and of Costantinos Giatzoglou, accused of sending the parcel bombs above.