ATHENS – Stepping up criticism of a darling of Greek anarchists and some elements in the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said terrorist killer Dimitris Koufodinas’ supporters demanding he get a furlough from jail were vandals and hooligans.
With the anarchist group Rouvikonas going on violent sprees to back the former Nov. 17 terror group chief who is serving 11 life sentences but has already had six vacations from jail, Pyatt’s home near the US Embassy was splashed with paint despite being heavily guarded by Greek police units.
He said his tweet denouncing the violence and supporters of Koufodinas – whom he had told a newspaper was “a murderer, not Robin Hood – “probably got more attention than anything else I’ve done on Twitter in three years in Greece.”
“Nobody agrees with these people,” he said in a statement although Rouvikonas has widespread support among anti-establishment groups who have been rampaging almost at will under SYRIZA with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ critics saying he has condoned it to reestablish Leftist credentials after bowing to the country’s creditors to impose austerity.
“This action is not a peaceful protest. It’s vandalism. It’s hooliganism, plain and simple,” said Pyatt, who also expressed gratitude for the government and police’s support and response to the vandalism. “We will work with Greek law enforcement in order to see hopefully that the individuals responsible are punished to the maximum extent under Greek law,” he said.
“What I would really like to emphasize: these people claim they are acting in solidarity with Dimitris Koufodinas. Dimitris Koufodinas is a murderer. He is a terrorist who was tried by the Greek State and found guilty of the murder of many Greeks and Americans,” he added.
Koufodinas’ group killed 23 people, including five Americans attached to the US Embassy over the years but with the US and Greece getting closer and the US wanting an expanded military presence in the country, the Embassy and State Department had limited criticism of furloughs for Koufodinas to tweets and press releases and no other action.
But now, Pyatt, ratcheting up his criticism, also said that Koufodinas “deserves the punishment that the Greek State has allocated to him. And the idea that he is being treated as some kind of Robin Hood hero, I find deeply offensive, and most importantly, is offensive to the memories of those he killed and the family members that he left behind.”
His comments came as a group of self-styled anarchists broke into a Thessaloniki office of the state-owned ERT radio station to express their solidarity Koufodinas, reading a statement on air, scattering flyers and then running away as they do after attacks.
A special plan that the Greek Police (ELAS) said it has for guarding the US Embassy and Pyatt’s home didn’t stop the vandalism despite video surveillance and police guards, including on motorcycles, Kathimerini said.
The attack, which occurred at around 4 a.m., involved 10 people wearing crash helmets. In a video posted online by Rouvikonas, the assailants can be seen setting off a smoke bomb and fleeing on motorcycles.
A police guard who had been on duty in a guard box outside the ambassador’s home notified police, who dispatched officers to the scene and eight people were detained but released as there was no evidence they were involved at all.
Police sources not identified told the paper that a plan involving officers from several departments – including the motorcycle-riding DIAS, YMET riot police and “Z” units – is in effect for guarding the US Embassy and Pyatt’s home from terror groups and anarchists.
YMET and Z officers are stationed at strategic points near the embassy but appear not to have seen the assailants and DIAS officers who patrol the area had been away from the scene at the time.
The attack was the second this year on the ambassador’s residence. In January nationalists defaced a wall with graffiti opposing Greece’s name deal with what is now North Macedonia and the same month Rouvikonas also vandalized the entrance to the embassy’s car park to protest “US imperialism.”
The attack was also condemned by Greece’s Foreign Ministry as an “unacceptable and irresponsible action, which nonetheless shall not affect the friendship and the expanding cooperation between our two countries.”
The major opposition New Democracy, which said Tsipras had let the capital descend into lawlessness and violence, again ripped the government for failing to go after the Far-Leftists with his party riddled with terrorist and anarchist sympathizers.
Anarchists earlier clashed with police guarding an event in Athens where former New Democracy Premier Antonis Samaras was in attendance. “That’s Tsipras’ Greece for you,” Samaras said as he was leaving.