NEWS

In Brief

PATRIARCH PLEA

Vartholomaios asks Iran to free Greek journalist held in Tehran Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, yesterday issued a request to the Iranian government to release Greek journalist Iason Athanasiadis, who was arrested last week as he was about to leave Tehran. The Ecumenical Patriarchate maintains good relations with Iran, having signed an agreement on cultural matters. Athanasiadis, who has written for the Athens News and Kathimerini in the past, had been covering Iran’s disputed presidential election for US newspaper The Washington Times. The 30-year-old also holds a British passport but, as his family has requested, the Greek Foreign Ministry is leading efforts to secure his release. SWINE FLU Number of cases up to 88 Two men, aged 18 and 27, have become Greece’s latest swine flu sufferers, taking the total cases in the country to 88, the Health Ministry said yesterday. The two men contracted the potentially fatal disease after coming into contact with others who were carrying the virus. The ministry said that 31 of those who had contracted the disease have been discharged from the hospital. Newspaper closure Theodoros Angelopoulos and Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who last week announced their decision to withdraw from involvement in the media, said yesterday that they would return the license for their City 99.5 radio station to the state and that they would listen to any serious last-minute offers for the daily and Sunday editions of the Eleftheros Typos newspaper. The couple said that there were «no secret plans» behind their decision to shut down the newspaper and station, insisting that it was a purely financial decision and that they were not in negotiations with a buyer. Korydallos brawl Four inmates of Attica’s Korydallos Prison were in the hospital yesterday, two with serious injuries, following a violent brawl on the jail’s premises late on Sunday. According to prison staff, the fracas broke out after inmates waiting to use a card-operated telephone became impatient waiting for a fellow convict to finish his call. The spat involved several Cretans arrested in a police raid on the mountain village of Zoniana and some Albanians. Drug find Police in Thessaloniki yesterday were questioning a Lithuanian national arrested after border guards discovered more than 7 kilograms of heroin hidden in his suitcase during a surprise inspection on a Turkish bus en route from Istanbul to the northern Greek city. With the help of a sniffer dog, police found the drugs in three parcels hidden in the Lithuanian’s suitcase. Weapons haul A 37-year-old foreign woman and her 17-year-old son yesterday were being questioned by police in Thessaloniki for failing to immediately report the discovery of a rucksack containing a large quantity of weapons in an apartment they had rented in the city center. They reportedly told police they had contacted the 38-year-old property owner upon discovering the rucksack and that he had told them he would collect it but had failed to turn up.