Overview:  The Greek government remained a highly collaborative CT partner in 2022.  It operationalized the Hellenic Passenger Information Unit (HPIU), mentored Western Balkan countries in implementing their respective Passenger Information Units (PIUs), implemented the Joint Security Program (JSP) pilot at the Athens International airport, and decided to issue biometrically-enabled national ID cards, a hurdle that has prevented Greece’s full participation in the Visa Waiver Program for more than six years.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  There were no major terrorist incidents in Greece in 2022.  However, there were bombings and several arson attacks throughout the year by anarchist groups that targeted media establishments, private residences of journalists, and Orthodox Church-affiliated premises and institutions.  And in one instance, a homemade bomb damaged a vehicle parked at the home of an Italian Embassy official in an Athens suburb.  In all cases, there were no victims or injuries reported, only minor property damage.  The following list details some of these incidents:

  • On December 2, two explosive devices targeted cars belonging to the Italian Embassy, including one outside the home of the Italian Deputy Chief of Mission. One of these exploded, causing no injuries.  Both attacks were believed to have been carried out by anarchists.
  • On July 13 an anarchist group, Thousands of Night Suns, bombed REAL Media Group, claiming that it was aligned with the government and its policies on energy, environment, the pandemic, and aid to Ukraine.  The fire was brought under control after 18 firefighters battled the blaze for two hours, with all employees evacuated from the building.  The police arrested a 27-year-old male anarchist in connection to this incident in November.
  • On July 6, anarchist group Nuclei of Immediate Action-Nucleus Julian Assange claimed responsibility for arson outside the residence of MP Babis Papadimitriou, announcing it was meant to “honor real freedom of speech,” while portraying Papadimitriou, a former journalist, as compromised for going into politics.  The same group claimed responsibility for a February arson attack at the residence of journalist Dimitris Kambourakis in the Athens suburb of Argyroupoli.
  • On February 9, three Greek citizens allegedly belonging to a group named Organization Anarchist Action carried out an arson attack against an Orthodox Christian religious society in Thessaloniki.  The incendiary device damaged the entrance of the building but caused no injuries.  All three were charged for carrying out a terrorist act, endangering life, damaging property, and for belonging to a terrorist organization.
  • On January 23, unknown individuals placed an incendiary device outside an unofficial mosque in Patisia in central Athens, causing damage to the property but no injuries.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  The following relevant laws were passed in 2022:

  • Law 4947, on June 23, transposed EU Directive 2019/713 of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 17, 2019, on combating fraud and counterfeiting of noncash means of payment and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/413/JHA.
  • Law 4995, on November 18, transposed EU Directive 2019/884 of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 17, 2019, amending Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA, related to the exchange of information on third-country nationals and to the European Criminal Records Information System, replacing Council Decision 2009/316/JHA.
  • Law 4998, on November 30, on the “Organization and operation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) National Unit,” provided for the establishment and operation of such a unit in Greece.  ETIAS is the EU’s Visa Waiver Program.  The National Units are responsible for deciding whether an individual can be granted access to the Schengen Area, or whether they pose a risk to public safety.
  • Law 4920/2022 in April transposed EU Directive 2019/1153 of the European Parliament and Council of June 20, 2019, establishing rules to facilitate the use of financial and other information for the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of certain criminal offenses and repeal of Decision 200/642/JHA of the Council (L 186).  Its stated purpose was to “introduce a unified institutional framework that will allow control of money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as the establishment of clear procedures during the exchange of information with Europol [the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation].”
  • Other related initiatives were the imposition of sanctions on terrorism suspects through a) the replacement of Par. 1, Art. 50, of Law 4557/2018 (originally Greece’s main law against money laundering) with Par. 1, Art. 76, of Law 5001/22, and b) the replacement of Par. 4, Art. 50, of Law 4557/2018 with Par. 2, Art. 76, of Law 5001/22.  Finally, added to paragraphs 1 and 4 of Art. 50 was Art. 187B of the Penal Code, which concerns the financing of terrorism.
  • On December 9, the government passed a bill that criminalizes the sale or possession of spyware and makes the private use of spyware a felony, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.  Per the new law, only Greece’s National Intelligence Service and the counterterrorism unit can request a prosecutor’s approval to monitor persons for a range of crimes specified under the bill, and a second prosecutor must sign the request.  Politicians can be monitored only for national security reasons, and the Parliament’s speaker must also approve such requests.  Those surveilled on national security grounds can be informed about the surveillance three years after the completion of surveillance.  The same law provides for the establishment of a Committee for the Coordination of Cybersecurity-Related Issues (provisions regarding the Committee’s area of jurisdiction and competence, administrative support to the Committee, working groups convened under the committee, etc.) and for the staffing of the National Authority for Cybersecurity (Law 5002, December 9).

The Ministry of Citizens Protection implemented the JSP pilot at the Athens International Airport starting in June, where Customs and Border Protection officers work closely with airport police and counterterrorism unit in an advisory capacity to identify and screen suspicious passengers traveling within Europe and to the United States.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Greece is a member of FATF, and its FIU, the Anti-Money Laundering Counterterrorist Financing and Source of Funds Investigation Authority (Hellenic FIU), is a member of the Egmont Group.  There were no significant changes in 2022.

Countering Violent Extremism:  There were no changes in 2022.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Greece is a member of various international bodies and acts as a regional leader and a willing partner in sharing its counterterrorism experience with its neighbors in the Western Balkans.  Greece maintains excellent cooperation with its neighbors at the land borders and has established regular information exchange mechanisms.

On May 9, Greek Minister for Citizen Protection Panagiotis Theodorikakos signed an MOU on security cooperation, fighting organized crime, and counterterrorism, with Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE minister of industry and advanced technology.

The HPIU made great strides in collecting, processing, and analyzing Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record data, substantially capturing close to 90 percent of airline traffic strengthening aviation security.  Additionally, the HPIU co-hosted a study tour and a workshop in Athens with Embassy Athens and U.S. Customs and Border Protection with five Western Balkan countries in the region attending.  The HPIU continues to mentor Albania, Cyprus, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Ukraine in standing up their respective PIUs through visits, regular meetings, and ongoing communication.

On This Page

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future