Silence on new claims

There was no official comment from the government yesterday as the issue of whether Pakistani migrants were abducted and questioned in Greece by secret agents began to take on potentially damaging proportions for the ruling conservatives. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Cabinet refrained from making any statements on the matter yesterday after the Proto Thema newspaper published the name of the Greek agents and a British official allegedly involved in the questioning of the Pakistanis in July. The newspaper published on Saturday the names of seven Greek secret service agents whom it claims took part in the kidnapping and interrogation of 28 Pakistanis in the wake of the terrorist bombings in London five months ago. Proto Thema also made public the name of a man it claims to be the station chief in Athens for Britain’s foreign intelligence service MI6. The National Intelligence Agency (EYP) said the newspaper was referring to «events which never took place» and accused the publication of damaging national interests by making the names of agents public. It is thought that some of the agents have been recalled from duty abroad as a result of the report. The British Foreign Office declined to comment on the allegations and banned the country’s media from naming the British officer alleged to have taken part in the operation. The office of Athens prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos said yesterday that it would take over an investigation launched by the police into the abduction claims and would look into the names published by the newspaper. «EYP is a state service and should operate within the legal framework,» said PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis. Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis has previously labeled the abduction claims «groundless» and «silly» and denied Greek officers were involved. Government sources yesterday suggested that the issue may have resurfaced as part of an effort to undermine the minister ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle. Having repeatedly denied the claims of the Pakistanis and their lawyer Frangiskos Ragousis, Voulgarakis has left himself in a vulnerable position if the allegations prove to be true. Government sources also claimed that the matter is being pushed by Pakistanis looking to control illegal immigration rings.