Originally created 01/23/04

Angry at security plans, protesters march against Athens Olympics



ATHENS, Greece -- Several hundred demonstrators marched through central Athens in freezing weather Thursday, protesting against the Olympics and massive security measures planned for the Summer Games.

Led by a black banner reading "Destroy Olympics" in English, about 400 people from anti-globalization and anarchist groups marched near Greece's parliament building before dispersing peacefully.

"We are facing Olympic terrorism," Nikos Yiannopoulos, a protest organizer, told The Associated Press.

"Our fundamental rights are being trampled on in the name of security," said Yiannopoulos. "We won't stop our action, not even in August."

The games are Aug. 13-29.

Demonstrators chanted "not one spectator, not one volunteer at the repression Olympics," and unfurled colorful banners. One displayed the cartoon-like 2004 mascots, Phevos and Athena, wearing riot police gear and with the logos of the U.S. companies Coca Cola and McDonalds on their shields.

Greece, rattled by terrorist attacks in neighboring Turkey last December, has budgeted more than $750 million for Olympic security and will deploy 10,000 soldiers and 40,000 police for the games.

Athens is receiving assistance on security planning from seven countries, including the United States and Israel and is working with America's CIA to gather information on potential threats around the world.

Police insist the measures are vital to prevent Athens from becoming a target for international terrorist groups like al-Qaida.