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Greek coastguard forces Gaza ‘freedom flotilla’ vessel back to port

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Jack Shenker
London Guardian
July 5, 2011

An attempt by one of the Gaza-bound “freedom flotilla” ships to defy the Greek government and escape from port was thwarted on Monday when armed coastguard officials caught up with the vessel and forced it back to shore.

On a day that activists had dubbed “make or break” for the international coalition of boats seeking to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the Canadian ship Tahrir burst out of Agios Nikolaos port in Crete at 6pm local time after supporters blocked the coastguard with manned kayaks.

“We have left port [and] are full steam ahead – coastguard boat about 5-10 [minutes] behind us,” announced passengers on the ship’s official Twitter feed as they raced towards international waters. But the faster coastguard boat caught up with the Tahrir and prevented it from going any further.

“Our boat has just been illegally boarded by armed members of the Greek coastguard and commandeered against our will,” Dylan Penner, a member of Tahrir steering committee, told the Guardian by phone from the ship’s deck. “This is conclusive evidence that Israel’s unlawful siege on Gaza has now been extended to Greece.”

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This article was posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 4:01 am

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