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In Letter To Secretary Albright, AHI Urges US Action To Free Abducted Cypriot Panicos Tsiakourmas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
January 3, 2001 No. 1/01 (202) 785-8430

In Letter To Secretary Albright, AHI Urges US Action To Free Abducted Cypriot Panicos Tsiakourmas

On January 3, 2001 the American Hellenic Institute sent a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urging the Administration to take immediate, high-level action with Turkey in the case of the abducted Greek Cypriot Mr. Panicos Tsiakourmas. The text reads:

"I am writing in connection with the abduction of Mr. Panicos Tsiakourmas, a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus, by elements of the illegal authorities in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.

The circumstances have now been well established. Mr. Tsiakourmas, who is a building contractor by profession, was abducted on December 11, 2000 from within the British Sovereign Base Area (SBA) of Dhekalia. Mr. Tsiakourmas was collecting workers from the Turkish occupied village of Pergamos for work in the government-controlled areas.

According to the report of the SBA police, Mr. Tsiakourmas was abducted into the occupied areas by unknown Turkish Cypriot civilians. Here he was arrested and charged with drug possession by the illegal authorities on the ground that an amount of cannabis was found in the near proximity. The British report indicated that the drugs had been planted by the Turkish Cypriot civilians.

Mr. Tsiakourmas is of exemplary character and has no record of drug possession or criminality of any kind.

There is no doubt that Mr. Tsiakourmas' abduction is a deliberate act of provocation by the Turkish Cypriot authorities acting under orders from Turkey. The kidnapping violates international law and flies in the face of the spirit of good will needed if progress on the Cyprus problem is to be possible. Mr. Tsiakourmas is being held as a hostage, just as Americans were once held hostage in the Middle East. As such, the act demands a forceful response from the United States. The U.S. government is actively engaged in the search for a settlement and cannot tolerate deliberate attempts to sabotage the negotiations.

Further, there is a humanitarian element. Mr. Tsiakourmas is an innocent victim of Turkey's illegal occupation policies in Cyprus. His wife and three children are suffering grievously by the absence of their husband and father.

I urge you therefore to instruct our Ambassador in Ankara to raise this matter with the greatest urgency and at the highest possible level with the Turkish government. He should make clear that the U.S. government attaches the gravest importance to this issue and hold the Turkish government directly responsible. He should demand that Mr. Tsiakourmas be immediately returned to his family."