Kiriakou Says Greek Gangs Criminal, Not Terrorist

Kiriakou - CopyFormer CIA analyst John Kiriakou, who last month was sentenced to more than two years in jail for revealing the identity of a covert operative, said that a rise in political violence in Greece is worrisome, but more related to criminal activity and a backlash against austerity than terrorist.

In an interview with the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the Greek-American, who became the first CIA agent to have jail sentence levied against him for leaking the name of an agent to the media, said, “I would not describe recent attacks as terrorism; I would call them criminal. A lot of people are suffering the consequences of the economic crisis and this creates fertile ground for the creation of organizations of the far left or far right.”

He worked with Greek authorities between 1998 and 2000 to help catch members of November 17, which he described as “the most disciplined terrorist organization in Europe.”

He added that when Nov. 17 was spreading terror that, “There were never any leaks and there were hardly ever any accidents,” but that the group’s murder of New Democracy MP Pavlos Bakoyannis in 1989 proved a turning point as it turned public opinion against the group.

Greek police earlier this month arrested four self-styled anarchists, 20-24 years old, for robbing two banks and said they were members of one of a number of new terrorist groups sprouting up in the country. But he said they are very unlike the notorious Nov. 17 which killed American and British officials and Greeks before being brought down.

Kiriakou also suggested that American authorities intentionally allowed rumors about the PASOK Socialist government being linked to November 17 to circulate in the 1980’s. “Americans wanted a bad guy in Greece to blame for the bad relations between the two countries,” he said.

In 2007, Kiriakou became one of the first CIA officials to express concern about the agency’s methods, when he questioned the use of waterboarding. He told Kathimerini that he has fears about the course some of his colleagues at the agency are following.

“It is as if they enjoy torturing, killing with drones and spying on American citizens,” he said. “These are very dangerous developments that we have to stop before we find ourselves living in a country with no civil rights and personal freedom.”