Police confirmed reports on Sunday that they maintain a list of foreign nationals suspected of possible links to terrorist groups abroad.
In statements to the Cyprus News Agency following a report in Phileleftheros that the list consists of 450 people, police spokesman Christos Andreou declined to give the number involved but confirmed that such persons are monitored and sometimes questioned to clear them of any such links while residing in Cyprus.
Police follow a specific action protocol in order to reveal the possible involvement of suspicious persons who reside on the territory of the Republic and who may be involved in illegal activities, he said.
He said that when the various police departments, in collaboration with other co-competent agencies, have information on any persons for whom there is information that they are involved in such activities, they are questioned.
Police, he added, were following the provisions of a protocol drawn up since 2019 and follows specific procedures so that the relevant state agencies are informed and take their own actions, so that the possible involvement of these persons in illegal activities becomes clear.
He explained that since 2019 there exists a Suspect Foreigners Assessment Group for Terrorism, which is convened at regular intervals and evaluates the available information it has.
“The police evaluate the data and proceed accordingly,” he said.
Without confirming the number of persons included in the list, Andreou clarified that the list that was written about may also include persons who have been questioned and are no longer suspects.
“They may have been interrogated and nothing was found against them,” he said.
Phileleftheros said there was a list containing 450 names who had sought asylum in recent years.
Some, it said, came to Cyprus with forged documents and in many cases “bear obvious signs of injuries that came from participation in armed conflicts”.
Others, it added, go back and forth between Cyprus and the Middle East while there were a few associated with organisations that have been internationally designated as terrorist groups.
The intelligence services KYP, the asylum service, police units such as the aliens and immigration service, the intelligence management and analysis service and the counter-terrorism office had set up a network and share information.
Also, the information on foreign persons is checked in the international databases, such as that of Interpol, their addresses in Cyprus are checked to see if they are valid, their social media is monitored to check for terrorist sympathisers, and the individuals are called in for questioning.
Each person is also assigned a green, orange or red code based on their previous histories. The list includes former Isis or Al Nusra fighter or sympathisers, the newspaper reported.