US removes Greek leftist group from terror blacklist

Alexander Giotopoulos, convicted former head of Greece's deadly November 17 terrorist group, is pictured at trial in Athens on December 2, 2005 (AFP Photo/Louisa Gouliamaki)

Washington (AFP) - The United States regards the Greek armed leftist group the "Revolutionary Organization 17 November" as defunct and has removed it from its terror blacklist, the State Department said Friday.

In 1975, November 17 killed CIA Athens station chief Richard Welch and over the next three decades claimed responsibility for 23 murders in attacks on US, British, Turkish and Greek targets.

Washington previously designated the shadowy movement a "specially designated global terrorist entity" but now no longer regards it as an active threat, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday.

Any assets held by a designated terror group in areas under US jurisdiction are frozen and American citizens are forbidden from dealing with the organization's members.

Toner said Washington "does not overlook or forget 17N's past acts of terrorism, including its members' involvement in murdering and injuring US citizens."

But he added "the Department of State, after a thorough review, has determined that the circumstances that were the basis for the 17N's designation had changed in such a manner as to warrant revocation."

"17N has ceased to exist as an organization with the capability and intent to commit terrorist activity," he said.

In April, the United States protested after Greek lawmakers voted to allow disabled prisoners to serve their terms under house arrest, a move it feared would see a November 17 bomber freed.

The United States has maintained its terrorist designation on another Greek far-left group, Revolutionary Struggle (EA), which carried out a series of anti-capitalist attacks between 2003 and 2007.