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08 January, 2002
CBS's acclaimed "60 Minutes" news magazine aired a segment on the notorious "November 17" terrorist group during its Sunday program, with references to Greek authorities' efforts to eradicate the group portrayed in a particularly negative light.
Among others, the segment's host -- "60 Minutes" veteran journalist Ed Bradley -- reiterated that no arrests of suspected "November 17" members have been made in the 26 years since the elusive group first surfaced and after more than 100 attacks.
"60 Minutes", the longest-running and highest-rated weekly investigative news program in the United States, also described the US embassy in Athens as a veritable "fortress", while adding that the US State Department spends more money on the safety of US diplomats in Greece than it does for any other country in the world.
Bradley noted that the issue of terrorism in Greece concerns Washington in light of the 2004 Games in Athens, while he said that although no link has been uncovered tying "November 17" -- a small but lethal Marxist urban terrorist cell -- with the religious fanatics of "al Qaida", the inability of Greek authorities to hunt down the group's members may "attract" other terrorist organizations to Athens in 2004.
A handful of people spoke to the program's reporters regarding "November 17", including former US diplomats assigned to Greece, family members of victims as well as Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
The latter, in fact, rejected claims linking the notorious terrorist group with the government, saying it was "an insult for me personally as well as for Greece's Parliament."
Conversely, the segment failed to air portions of an interview given by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on the issue of terrorism last May in Washington, an interview given to Bradley last May - a fact pointed out on Monday by the Greek government.
A few hours later, a government spokesman in Athens questioned the timing and "expediency" of the aired "60 Minutes" segment - in light of Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis' official visit to the United States this week and a meeting with President George W. Bush at the White House.
Spokesman Christos Protopapas also questioned the report's fairness, emphasizing that nary a "sound bite" of Papandreou's lengthy interview was shown, whereas the segment "was expended on a virulent attack against Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis".
At one point Kaklamanis was described on the "60 Minutes" segment as representing the "ultra-nationalist and anti-American" wing of the ruling PASOK party.
On his part, Kaklamanis issued a statement later in the day calling the '60 Minutes' segment as nothing more than a "selective and skillful" presentation of his 20-minute interview in order to portray him as sympathetic towards 'November 17'.
Kaklamanis charges in his announcement that only 'snippets' of his interview were used, whereas the translation of his statements also featured alterations.
"It emanates from the well-known propaganda of circles in the United States, namely, that there are politicians in Greece who harbor terrorism. And, of course, anyone can discern that the broadcast timing, focusing on the issue of security for the Olympic Games, cannot be considered as coincidental."
Finally, Kaklamanis blasted former US ambassador to Athens Thomas Niles and ex-diplomat Wayne Merry for their caustic comments regarding Greece and "Nov. 17" on the same segment.
Source: Athens News Agency