Tourists Mistaken For Illegal Immigrants Beaten By Greek Police

Greek authorities have been cracking down on illegal immigrants to the country but a number of tourists have been detained as part of the sweep. Some of the travelers have even been beaten so badly by police that they ended up in the hospital, according to the BBC.

Greek police patrolling the streets are stopping anyone who looks foreign and asking to see their ID. However, many tourists claim to have been arrested and taken to a police station despite showing authorities their passport.

One tourist from Korea says a police officer punched him in the face after he handed over his passport when stopped in the street in Athens. He was then taken to the police station where he was attacked again in a stairwell.

Another man traveling with his family on a US passport says he was beaten so badly after being detained that he fell unconscious. He woke to find himself in a hospital.

“I went there to spend my money but they stopped me just because of my color. They are racist.” Christian Ukwuorji told the BBC.Greece has been clamping down on illegal immigration as the country’s economic woes make it increasingly difficult to support the growing numbers of immigrants. It’s believed that as much as 10 percent of the country’s population is living there illegally.

Greece is also under pressure from the European community because the country is viewed as a gateway to the EU – almost 95 percent of Europe’s illegal immigrants enter via Greece.

More than 60,000 people have been stopped in the streets since the operation began in August last year. The US State Department has updated its travel advisory to warn tourists of the potential harassment.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user George Laoutaris]