- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2011

GREEK SPIES FAILING

Greece’s unionized intelligence service is such a failure that it is “dangerous to national security,” and police know the identities of domestic terrorists but cannot arrest them because of legal barriers, a former U.S. ambassador in Athens said after private talks with the country’s former minister for public safety.

Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard reported last January about the harsh assessment from Michalis Chrysochoidis, who, as Greece’s minister for citizen protection, was in charge of the national police and domestic security service.

“Chrysochoidis severely criticized the state of EYP, Greece’s domestic security and intelligence service,” the ambassador reported in a confidential cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

“‘EYP is nothing,’” he added, quoting the Greek official.

“It does not serve its mission of protecting Greece and, in fact, is dangerous to national security because of its many shortcomings, not the least of which is a unionized labor force,” Mr. Speckhard said, paraphrasing Mr. Chrysochoidis.

The national police force “is not up to [the] task of safeguarding society,” the ambassador said, after Mr. Chrysochoidis explained plans for reorganizing the law-enforcement agency.

“On domestic terrorism, Chrysochoidis said that the police know the identities of almost all the members of the current terrorist-anarchist groups [in Greece], but they lack the evidentiary basis for arresting and imprisoning them,” Mr. Speckhard reported.

Mr. Chrysochoidis this week downplayed Greek press reports of the diplomatic cable as old news.

“I have described publicly thousands of times the unsatisfactory situation that existed then,” said Mr. Chrysochoidis, now minister for regional development.

Mr. Speckhard, now a specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington, was a career diplomat who served in Athens from 2007 to 2010.

SHAM ARREST

The chairman of a key congressional human-rights panel Thursday denounced Russia for imposing a “sham” prison sentence on Boris Nemtsov, a top political opposition leader.

“It was bad enough that Mr. Nemtsov was even arrested, then it got worse with the sentence he received,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin. “The fact Kremlin-controlled courts uphold sham arrests signals Moscows continued retreat from democracy.”

Moscow police arrested Mr. Nemtsov on New Year’s Eve as part of an ongoing crackdown on opposition political rallies. Seventy others were arrested at the protest.

Judge Yelena Stashina sentenced Mr. Nemtsov to a 15-day jail term for disobeying police orders during the rally.

“The persecution of Mr. Nemtsov and others goes far beyond a violation of their rights to freedom of assembly and association,” said Mr. Cardin, Maryland Democrat and chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“The arrests instead signal a further shrinking of the already limited space the Kremlin allows for public expression of views that do not conform with those of the current Russian leadership.”

Mr. Nemtsov testified at a November commission hearing in Washington about the decaying state of democracy in Russia.

“I have the honor of knowing Boris Nemtsov and applaud his courage in standing up for the most basic right of publicly expressing dissent,” Mr. Cardin said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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