February 22, 1999
ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- Jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan has reportedly told interrogators that Greece helped arm and train his Kurdistan Workers Party, known as the PKK. Greece denied the allegations.
"Greece has for years supported the PKK movement," Ocalan told his interrogators, according to the Turkish daily Hurriyet Monday. "They even gave us arms and rockets."
Ocalan was captured in Kenya last week and taken to a Turkish prison island. He is expected to stand trial on terrorism charges for leading a 15-year Kurdish battle for autonomy from Turkey.
Hurriyet said the interrogation sessions on the island were being videotaped, but did not say how it had obtained the statements purportedly made by Ocalan.
Turkey has repeatedly claimed that Greece was supporting the PKK, which both Ankara and the United States consider a terrorist organization.
"Greece should be added to the list of countries that support terrorism and harbor terrorists," said Turkish President Suleyman Demirel. "A country like that can only be described as an outlaw state."
Before his arrest, Ocalan had been hiding at the Greek Embassy in Nairobi. Three Greek ministers resigned during the ensuing uproar.
"What is worse is that we see no sign of remorse," Demirel said. "On the contrary, Greece is shamelessly unhappy at the fact that the terrorist Ocalan is in the hands of justice."
Tensions between Greece and Turkey have been high for years. The two countries have been to the brink of war several times over various territorial disputes, including claims in the Aegean Sea and the divided island of Cyprus.
Ocalan was carrying a Cypriot passport at the time of his arrest.
Hurriyet reported that Ocalan confirmed Turkish suspicion that the Greeks trained Kurdish forces in Lavrion, Greece, site of a U.N. refugee center housing mainly Kurdish refugees. International observers have been unable to substantiate such charges in the past, and there was no independent confirmation of the latest accusations.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou denied Turkish claims that his government allowed the PKK to operate from Greek territory. Papandreou said that Athens sheltered Ocalan for humanitarian reasons.
"He was a hot potato being thrown from one lap to another," he said.
Meanwhile, the European Union said Monday that Ocalan should be given a fair trial from Turkish authorities.
"(The EU) expects ... fair and correct treatment and an open trial according to the rule of law before an independent court, with access to legal counsel of his choice and with international observers admitted to the trial," the 15-nation group said in a statement.
Turkey insists that Ocalan will receive a fair trial.
Ocalan's arrest sparked protests across Europe and the Middle East last week. Kurdish supporters of Ocalan rallied in Britain, France, Germany and elsewhere to express their support for the Kurdish activist.
Many of the protests were staged at Greek embassies and consulates.
Protests in Iran prompted Turkey to close one of its border crossings into its eastern neighbor Monday.
"The decision has been made because of the protests taking place in Iran recently," said a Turkish security official. "We are thinking of the safety of our citizens traveling to that country."
The border closing is temporary, he said, but did not say how long it would last.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Kurds ignore Turkish amnesty offer
The Republic of Turkey
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