- Title: Greece denies report of secret "black site" for migrants near Turkish border
- Date: 11th March 2020
- Summary: POROS, EVROS, GREECE (MARCH 11, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MILITARY FACILITY AT THE BORDER REPORTED BY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES ATHENS, GREECE (MARCH 11, 2020) (REUTERS) GREEK GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN STELIOS PETSAS AT NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN, STELIOS PETSAS, SAYING: "As far as the New York times is concerned, I believe everyone understands that it is an international newspaper with a lot of influence, so if the New York times knows it then I don't see how it can be "secret", this type of detention centre. There is no secret detention centre in Greece, everything that has to do with the issues of the guarding of the borders, or issues of security are transparent, the laws, the social aquis and the constitution are being applied, and there is nothing secret. In regards to the issue of injured and dead that we have heard in the last period, we have categorically denied that there is such an issue, at least from the Greek side and we will continue to do that." POROS, EVROS, GREECE (MARCH 11, 2020) (REUTERS) EMPTY STREETS IN THE VILLAGE OF POROS MILITARY VEHICLE DRIVING THROUGH POROS VILLAGE (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) POROS VILLAGE RESIDENT KYRIAZIS KYRIAZIDIS SAYING: "The situation wasn't that pressing in the past, things were under control. We would see a couple of people, maybe five people. But in recent days you could see that they were being brought here in buses, in army vehicles. That was the most alarming thing, that is what made people scared, what could it mean, what more would the Turkish government want to do." KASTANIES, EVROS, GREECE (MARCH 11, 2020) (REUTERS) MILITARY VEHICLES CARRYING BARBED WIRE DRIVING THROUGH THE VILLAGE OF KASTANIES VARIOUS OF MILITARY VEHICLES AT THE CROSSING OF THE BORDER
- Keywords: Austria Greece Kastanies New York Times Poros Turkey border forces influx migrants
- Reuters ID: LVA001C4LZWHZ
- Location: ATHENS, POROS AND KASTANIES, GREECE
- City: ATHENS, POROS AND KASTANIES, GREECE
- Country: Greece
- Duration: 00:02:21
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Story Text: The Greek government dismissed on Wednesday (March 11) a report in The New York Times newspaper that it was holding illegal migrants who cross the border from Turkey at a secret "black site" where they are denied access to lawyers and cannot file asylum claims.
Tens of thousands of migrants have been trying to get into Greece, a European Union member state, since Turkey said on Feb. 28 it would no longer keep them on its territory as part of a 2016 deal with Brussels in return for EU aid for the refugees.
Greece has used tear gas and water cannon to deter the migrants and says it has stopped more than 42,000 people from entering its territory over the past two weeks.
In its article, The New York Times quoted migrants who said they had been captured by Greek security forces, stripped and beaten and held in a complex of buildings near the border.
Using satellite imagery and mobile phone data, the newspaper said the site was near the village of Poros, in the northeast, not far from the Greek-Turkish border in the Evros river delta.
"There is no secret detention centre in Greece," government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters on Wednesday, adding that if an international newspaper knew about the site, it wasn't secret.
"All issues related to guarding the borders or issues of security are transparent. The constitution is being applied... and there is nothing secret."
On March 3, Greece passed a decree suspending asylum applications for a month and allowing for the immediate deportation of any migrants seized crossing the border.
Erdogan's decision to open the border appears designed to put pressure on the EU to provide more aid for some 3.6 million refugees and migrants Turkey is hosting. Ankara says it has received only about half of some 6 billion euros promised by the EU under the 2016 deal for the refugees.
The New York Times article, citing video evidence and witness testimony, also alleged that Mohammed Yaarub, a 22-year-old Syrian from Aleppo who was shot dead near the border last week, had been killed by a Greek security officer.
Petsas, the government spokesman, reiterated Greece's previous denials that its forces have killed any migrants.
Poros resident Kyriazis Kyriazidis, 60, said migrants passing through the area was always a daily occurrence. The village is very close to the border and residents are regularly seeing migrants trying to cross into the country and in some cases, they have also found migrants seeking shelter in their homes. But the past few days have been very tough even for someone who has lived his entire life along the river that divides Greece and Turkey.
"The situation wasn't that pressing in the past, things were under control. We would see a couple of people, maybe five people. But in recent days you could see that they were being brought here in buses, in army vehicles. That was the most alarming thing, that is what made people scared, what could it mean, what more would the Turkish government want to do," he said.
Things have now calmed down, he says, and residents were looking forward to the reinforcements. Reinforcements from Cyprus and Austria arrived to the Greek border with Turkey on Wednesday to reinforce the Greek forces guarding the border. Asked about the facilities near his village that came under the spotlight, he says that it is a known military area.
(Production: Gennady Novak, Stamos Prousalis, Vassilis Triandafyllou, Deborah Kyvrikosaios and Elena Gyldenkerne)
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