Title: Greek Government, US UK Agencies Push Harder Than Ever for Apprehension
of November 17  

Document Number: FBIS-WEU-2001-1209
Document Date: 09 Dec 2001
Sourceline: GMP20011209000217 Athens Ta Nea in Greek 09 Dec 01 p A12 
Citysource: Athens Ta Nea 
Language: Greek 
Subslug: Report by a Special Correspondent: "N17, the 'Good Guys' of the FBI 
and the 'Bad Guys' of the CIA" 

[FBIS Translated Text]     A complex backstage scene is developing around 
investigations into the terrorist organization N17.   US officials 
expect, and are demanding, the arrests of at least mid-level members of 
the organization, about whom they claim sufficient evidence is already 
available.   Prime Minister Simitis and Public Order Minister 
Khrisokhoidhis insist during related discussions that "if you bring us 
incontrovertible proof, we are ready to arrest the leaders of this 
organization".   As for the British, they are methodically preparing a 
complete file of related information, and claim that when it is 
completed, they will be able to support charges against specific 
individuals in court, and to assist the Greek government in securing 
their convictions. 

    Meanwhile, a rumor is circulating within diplomatic circles about a 
special negotiation on the whole affair that could end with the 'freeze' 
of the organization by the possible arrests of 2 or 3 leading members, 
without creating the huge 'earthquake' political observers are concerned 
about.   There is no tangible evidence pointing to such a negotiation, 
and security authorities believe there will soon be a proclamation on 
behalf of N17 (without a terrorist strike) that will include the message 
it wants to convey to the public. 

    Washington seems unwilling to accept such a development, especially 
after the events of September 11.   A lobby in Washington of former 
intelligence officials concerned with Greece is systematically pushing 
for increased pressure on Greece.   "Only the arrests and convictions of 
top members of the organization will satisfy us", comment US officials 
monotonously.   US Ambassador Tom Miller stresses at every opportunity 
that he is pleased by the progress with Khrisokhoidhis, and that things 
have improved dramatically since the days he served as Deputy Ambassador 
in the Embassy.   He is, however, being responsive to pressure to be 
tougher with Athens, pressure from officials who recall his previous 
positions on the issue of terrorism. 

    What has truly changed, meanwhile, is the current climate of 
mutuality and trust that characterizes relation between Greek and US 
authorities.   Veteran US officials claim that serious rifts had emerged 
in the past, mainly because of the CIA and not of the 'police-like' FBI.  
 As an example, they recall the apprehension of a man suspected of 
membership in N17 who was carrying an electronic agenda, a portion of 
which was protected with a security code that the Greek authorities could 
not crack.   When Greek officials asked for the help of the FBI, the 
agenda was dispatched to the lab that built it.   The CIA found out and 
proposed that it take the agenda and return an identical one to the Greek 
Police full of information irrelevant to the case.   This proposal caused 
a serious rift, which was later resolved at the highest level.   In the 
end, the FBI's position prevailed, the Greek authorities were indirectly 
informed and the mutual trust grew. 

    This episode is characteristic for yet another reason: the disputes 
and gaffes of US agents have often marked their presence in Greece, 
especially in the past.   The money that US agencies have occasionally 
paid for information on N17 to informants in Greece, Paris and Germany 
are substantial, and have given rise to many disputes.   Also indicative 
were the suspicions of some in Washington about an FBI agent in Athens 
who was uncontrollably spending secret funds to purchase information that 
never really proved useful.   His early transfer was connected to these 
charges, even though his colleagues insisted that he was a highly capable 
and 'clean' officer. 

    People who are familiar with the gray world of intelligence agencies 
believe US officials have on occasion purchased information from retired 
Greeks or other dubious individuals.   For this reason, the Greek 
government insists that "no arrests will be made without incontrovertible 
proof", and government officials condemn the naming of suspects without 
evidence.   US officials counter argue that concrete proof can only 
emerge if N17 members are caught red-handed or if rockets, a typewriter 
and a revolver are found in a hideout.   Both cases are considered 
dangerous and difficult. 

    The Investigations: What Scotland Yard Has to Offer 

    Investigations have moved forward during the past six months and 
certain significant findings concern a major Greek city.   Officials from 
the United Kingdom who are following the investigations have revealed 
their intention to complete a full judicial file on the case within the 
next two to three months.   "They first submitted the Digest report, 
which listed all the unresolved loose ends from previous cases that 
needed looking into", stressed a Greek official, adding that "now, they 
are completing a file which at some point will be submitted to the Greek 
government with names of suspects and the evidence about each one of 
them.   All indications suggest that London will deliver the file and 
wait for the reaction in Greece". 

    The Greek government, meanwhile, has publicly declared that it also 
has a lot of information available on the 26 year-old organization and 
awaits the discovery of "additional information" that will allow its 
eradication.   This was also suggested by the critical report discovered 
by "Ta Nea", a report written by a man considered to be a "living 
archive" of information on terrorism and which, in its complete form, has 
much to reveal about N17. 

[Description of Source: Athens Ta Nea in Greek -- Center-Left daily with 
pro-Pasok Inclination]