NEWS

Former CIA chief’s slur enrages Cyprus

ROME (AP) – Former CIA director James Woolsey has suggested Osama bin Laden may have assets in Cyprus and has warned that Cyprus’s bid to join the EU would be jeopardized if it didn’t release information soon. Woolsey was quoted by Rome’s La Repubblica newspaper yesterday as saying Cyprus was the worst of all money-laundering havens that had resisted US calls to provide information about bin Laden’s assets. That call was first made in 1998, after the Saudi dissident was accused of masterminding the double US Embassy bombings in Africa. In the interview, Woolsey, CIA director from 1993-95, said Washington had advised its European Union allies to tell Cyprus that it would take up to 400 years to join the EU if it doesn’t quickly provide information on bin Laden. His comments enraged Cypriot officials. Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides announced a formal protest with the State Department. If he believes that the bin Laden treasure is in Cyprus then the problem of international terrorism is solved. Let him come here and I’ll personally escort him to where the treasure is supposed to be and hand it over to him, Cassoulides said. [Who is this Woolsey?, the AFP quoted him as saying. He should be punished with a 400-year prison term if he had knowledge that bin Laden kept his money in Cypriot banks and never advised Cypriot authorities.] The governor of the Cyprus Central Bank, Afxentis Afxentiou, said Woolsey’s remarks were unfounded and malicious. In Athens, deputy government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris said that neither Rogge nor Denis Oswald, his successor as head of the IOC Coordination Commission, had discussed security with Greek authorities recently. He added that they could meet with Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis if they request a meeting. Rogge, Oswald and other Coordination Commission members will visit Athens next week to inspect progress in preparations.