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Greece to Set Up Olympic Screening Center

December 4, 2003

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Greece will set up a screening center for illegal immigrants before next summer’s Olympics as part of a heightened effort to bolster border security following terrorist attacks in neighboring Turkey.

The center will be set up at Athens’ main port of Piraeus, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Paschalidis said Thursday. He did not provide further details.

An international advisory group assisting Greece on Olympic security has expressed concern terrorist groups could exploit trafficking routes carrying thousands of illegal immigrants from Asia, the Middle East and eastern Europe into Greece.

The seven-member Olympic security advisory group is made up of Britain, France, Israel, Spain, Australia, Germany and the United States.

Officials from Greece’s National Intelligence Service have begun taking part in questioning immigrants detained by the police or coast guard to check with security agencies around the world for fugitive terrorist suspects.

Paschalidis, whose ministry is involved in security planning for the Aug. 13-29 Olympics, said the number of immigrants trying to reach Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast had dropped from 6,800 in 2001 to 2,200 so far this year.

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