Greece protests to Turkey over boat incident, Ankara denies fault

Greek authorities said a Turkish coast guard vessel rammed the Greek coast guard vessel the Gavdos 090, above, near a couple of uninhabited islets in the Aegean Sea over which the two NATO allies nearly went to war in 1996. (AP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Greece protests to Turkey over boat incident, Ankara denies fault

ATHENS/ANKARA: Greece complained to Turkey on Tuesday that a Turkish vessel had collided with a Greek coast guard boat off disputed islets in the Aegean Sea, but Turkey denied the Turkish ship was at fault.
The Greek coast guard said in a statement that the incident took place off Imia, known as Kardak in Turkish, at about midnight on Monday.
A Turkish patrol vessel “made some risky maneuvers” striking the left side of the Greek coast guard vessel patrolling the area, and damaging it. There were no injuries, the coast guard said.
Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, have been at odds over a host of issues from ethnically split Cyprus to sovereignty over airspace and overflights.
They came to the brink of war in 1996 in a sovereignty dispute over the islets, but tensions have eased since.
“Dangerous incidents, such as this one, which put human lives in danger, are the result of the escalating and provocative behavior shown increasingly by Turkey in recent days,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Turkey must end the violations of international law and acts that do not contribute in the development of the two countries’ relations.”
Turkey’s ambassador to Athens was also called at the foreign ministry, it said in the statement.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denied the Turkish vessel was at fault. It said the Greek statement misled Greece’s own public and that it distorted the truth “as always.”
It said Ankara had in fact contacted Athens regarding the “dangerous maneuvers” by the Greek coast guard, and informed them that Turkey “would not tolerate continuing hostile behavior by the Greek armed forces.”
Tensions between the two countries have been on the rise since a Greek court blocked the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers Ankara accuses of involvement in a failed coup against President Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.


Guantanamo prison takes on geriatric airs

Updated 41 min 21 sec ago
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Guantanamo prison takes on geriatric airs

  • The population still imprisoned at the military base in Cuba range from middle-aged to elderly
  • With a budget of $12 million, a prison annex has been transformed into a public hospital, complete with modern equipment

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba: The controversial Guantanamo Bay prison still houses 40 aging inmates — and with no plans to close it, many of them will probably remain there until they die.
The population still imprisoned at the military base in Cuba range from middle-aged to elderly — the oldest inmate is 71 — so the prison with a history of torture has taken on some airs of a geriatric facility.
The US Army — directed to ensure Guantanamo can stay open at least another 25 years — has revamped parts of the institution home to terror suspects to include a dedicated medical center and operating rooms.
“There has been a lot of thought put into what preparing for an aging detainee population looks like and what infrastructure we need to have in place to do that safely and humanely,” said Anne Leanos, the public affairs director for Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
With a budget of $12 million, a prison annex has been transformed into a public hospital, complete with a radiology room equipped with an MRI scanner, as well as an emergency room and three-bed intensive care unit.
During a journalist visit to the new clinic, a walker sits in the corner of a room, which has a hospital bed, wheelchair and medical equipment akin to any other infirmary.
But there is no window, and wire mesh serves as a partition, recalling that this is still very much a detention center.
Congress will not allow sick prisoners to travel to the United States for treatment: Guantanamo inmates are considered highly dangerous by the government, which accuses them of participating in various attacks including those of September 11.
No prisoner needs a wheelchair yet — but if the need arises, the clinic is prepared with ramps.
Patients suffer from ailments common for their age: diabetes, hypertension, gastrointestinal diseases and motor disorders.
The second-floor psychiatric ward is equipped with two cells converted into consultation rooms.
A third, completely empty cell is padded and serves as the isolation room for prisoners experiencing psychotic episodes.
Like any staff deployed to Guantanamo, prison psychiatrists usually stay just nine to 12 months on site, limiting the scope of their interaction with prisoners.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visits Guantanamo about four times a year to make sure the prison is complying with detention standards and to assess detainees’ treatment.
Since the infamous detention center opened in 2002, nine inmates have died: seven committed suicide, according to the military, while one died of cancer and another had a heart attack.
The largest contingent — 26 inmates — at the military complex have never been charged with anything, but are considered too dangerous to be released.
One “highly compliant” inmate was on a “non-religious fast,” at the moment of the visit — a euphemism used at the prison to describe hunger strikes prisoners regularly observe in protest.
Acts of rebellion are fairly common — and base commander Admiral John Ring said one inmate was currently under disciplinary action.
“These are the ones that could not be released,” said Ring. “Many of these gentlemen are still at war with the United States.
“Any act of resistance, no matter how small — they are still fighting the war through these minor acts of resistance.”