By Andria Kades
SIX French passport-holders detained at Larnaca airport since Saturday night in connection with Islamist ties are expected to be sent back to France, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said on Monday.
Although they were expected to be sent back by Monday, Angelides said it was a matter of flights and procedures and did not rule out the possibility it would be Tuesday before they left.
His comments rule out earlier reports the suspects would be sent back to Switzerland after Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou speaking on state radio said “they will be sent back to the country they came from.”
Angelides said he had spoken to the immigration department who confirmed they should be sent to France as they carry French passports. They country they were travelling from was irrelevant, he added
The six men, five Turkish nationals and one Algerian, aged between 25 and 32, arrived on Saturday night at 7.30 on a flight from Basel in Switzerland, and raised the suspicions of airport immigration officials when they said they had come to Cyprus as tourists for four days.
The men were detained at the airport and according to CNA, authorities who checked with Interpol and Europol, said three of the men, the Algerian and two of the Turks, had ties to “Islamist networks”.
Following interrogations Nicolaou said all six were suspicious and would be sent back.
“They were questioned by a special police team set up for these cases and evidence that has been collected allows us to send them back to the country they came from.”
Refraining from details he said only that there had been an exchange of information from Interpol with other EU member states over the three men.
Angelides could not confirm whether all six of them were found to have close links to the Islamic State stressing the Interpol message referred to three individuals.
“During investigations all six were considered as suspects because they did not give sufficient explanations as to why they were in Cyprus.”
According to Larnaca Press, the British bases, which are carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq, were also informed.
Nicolaou said Cypriot authorities are continuously cooperating with other countries while security measures in airports and ports of the Republic are being intensified.
By Andria Kades