Revolutionary Organization 17 November

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Revolutionary Organization 17 November
Επαναστατική Οργάνωση 17 Νοέμβρη
LeaderAlexandros Giotopoulos, Dimitris Koufontinas
Other members: Savvas Xiros, Christodoulos Xiros, Vasilis Xiros, Vasilis Tzortzatos
Dates of operation1975–2002
Active regionsGreece
Left-wing nationalism
Political positionFar-left
Major actionsAssassinations, Kidnappings, Property Damage, Robbery
Means of revenueBank robbery
Designated as a terrorist group byGreece, Turkey, UK, US

Revolutionary Organization 17 November (Greek: Επαναστατική Οργάνωση 17 Νοέμβρη, Epanastatiki Organosi dekaefta Noemvri), also known as 17N or the 17 November Group, was a Greek far-left Marxist–Leninist urban guerrilla and terrorist organization[2] [3] formed in 1975 and led by Alexandros Giotopoulos. 17N conducted an extensive urban guerrilla campaign against the Greek state, banks, and businesses, as well as American, Turkish, and British targets.[4][5][6][7] The organization committed 103 known armed robberies, assassinations, and bombing attacks, during which 23 people were killed.[8]


17N's first attack, on 23 December 1975, was against the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Athens, Richard Welch. Welch was gunned down outside his residence by three assailants, in front of his wife and driver.[9]: 67  17N's repeated claims of responsibility were ignored until 25 December 1976, when it murdered the former Intelligence Chief of the Greek security police, convicted of torturing political prisoners, Evangelos Mallios,[10] and left "scattered leaflets" at the scene claiming responsibility for the 1975 Welch murder.[11]

17N used two .45 M1911 semi-automatics as its "signature weapons".[12]

After their inaugural attack on the CIA station chief, the group tried to get mainstream newspapers to publish their manifesto. Their first proclamation, claiming the murder of Richard Welch, was first sent to "Libération" in Paris, France. It was given to the publisher of "Libération" via the offices of Jean-Paul Sartre.[13]

Police suspected the group of using a stolen anti-armor rocket to attack a downtown branch of the American Citibank in April 1998. The attack caused damage but no injuries, as the warhead did not explode. The rocket was fired by remote control from a private car parked outside the bank on Drossopoulou street in the downtown district of Kypseli.[14]

A British defence attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders was shot and killed on 8 June 2000 by two men on motorbikes as he drove to work in Kifissia, Athens.[15][16]


17N's known murdered (23) and injured victims include:[17]

Name Date Profession Notes
Richard Welch 23 December 1975 CIA station chief in Athens.
Evangelos Mallios 14 December 1976 Police officer who was accused of torturing political prisoners during the period of military junta.
Pantelis Petrou 16 January 1980 Deputy commander of the Greek police Riot Control Unit M.A.T
Sotiris Stamoulis 16 January 1980 driver of Pantelis Petrou
George Tsantes 15 November 1983 a US Navy Captain. High level executive of JUSMAGG
Nikos Veloutsos 15 November 1983 driver of George Tsantes
Robert H. Judd 3 April 1984 army Master Sergean. Postal officer for JUSMAGG in Greece wounded in an assassination attempt.
Christos Matis 24 December 1984 police guard. killed in a bank robbery.
Nikos Momferatos 21 February 1985 publisher of the "Apogevmatini" right-wing newspaper
Georgios Roussetis 21 February 1985 driver of Nikos Momferatos
Nikolaos Georgakopoulos 26 November 1985 Riot police officer killed in bus bombing.
Dimitrios Aggelopoulos 8 April 1986 President of the board of Halyvourgiki S.A.
Zacharias Kapsalakis 4 February 1987 doctor and clinic owner shot in the legs.
Alexander Athanasiadis 1 March 1988 industrialist
William Nordeen 28 June 1988 a US Navy captain killed by a car bomb.
Constantinos Androulidakis 10 January 1989 a public prosecutor is shot in both legs and dies of complications.
Panayiotis Tarasouleas 18 January 1989 also a public prosecutor is shot in both legs.
Giorgos Petsos 8 May 1989 PASOK MP and Minister is injured in his car by a car bomb.
Pavlos Bakoyannis 26 September 1989 New Democracy MP shot and killed outside his office over alleged links to George Koskotas.[18]
Ronald O. Stewart 13 March 1991 a US Air Force Sergeant killed by a bomb.
Deniz Bölükbaşı 16 June 1991 Turkish Chargé d'Affaires is injured by a car bomb.
Çetin Görgü 7 October 1991 Turkish Press attaché
Yiannis Varis 2 November 1991 a police officer is killed in a missile and hand grenade attack against a riot squad bus
Athanasios Axarlian 14 June 1992 a student killed by shrapnel during a rocket attack targeting the limousine of Finance Minister Ioannis Palaiokrassas.
Eleftherios Papadimitriou 21 December 1992 New Democracy party deputy and MP is shot in both legs.
Michael Vranopoulos 24 January 1994 former governor of the National Bank of Greece.
Ömer Haluk Sipahioğlu 4 July 1994 counselor of the Turkish Embassy in Athens.
Kostis Peraticos 28 May 1997 owner of Eleusis Shipyards. Shot by three masked individuals whilst leaving his company offices in Piraeus.[19][20]
Stephen Saunders 8 June 2000 military attaché of the British Embassy in Athens. Shot and killed by two assassins on a motorbike whilst on the way to work.


The trial of 19 individuals suspected of involvement with 17N commenced in Athens on 3 March 2003, with Christos Lambrou serving as the lead prosecutor for the Greek state.[21] Because of the 20-year statute of limitations, crimes committed before 1984 (such as the killing of the CIA station chief) could not be tried by the court. On 8 December, fifteen of the accused, including Giotopoulos and Koufontinas, were found guilty; another four defendants were acquitted for lack of evidence. The convicted members were sentenced on 17 December 2003.[22] All those convicted defendants appealed.[23] On 3 May 2007, the convictions were upheld.[24][25]


In early January 2014, Christodoulos Xyros, one of the imprisoned leaders of the organization, escaped from prison. On 6 January, he failed to report to the police after leaving prison under the condition to report to the police every day, which he did six times in 18 months.[26] He was taken into custody while riding a bicycle in the southern suburb of Anavyssos in early January 2015.[27]

In 2018 the group's alleged hitman Dimitris Koufontinas was moved from Korydallos Prison to a low security agricultural facility after the prison council approved his parole request, citing exemplary behaviour.[28][29]

2021 hunger strike[edit]

On 8 January 2021, at 63 years of age, Koufontinas entered a hunger strike with the demand of transfer to Korydallos Prison after being sent to a high security prison in Domokos.[30] On 22 February whilst in intensive care at Lamia Hospital Koufontinas started to reject water and medical care, forcibly removing a catheter from his arm before the courts issued an order to force feed the prisoner a few days later,[31] a practice condemned by many, including a Greek union of doctors as torture.[32] It was reported that on 5 March, Koufontinas had to be resuscitated due to kidney failure.[33] Koufontinas ended his hunger strike on 14 March after 65 days despite his demands not being met.[34]

Street demonstrations were held in multiple cities across Greece as well as attacks against property has been claimed in support of Koufontinas,[35][36] including a demonstration outside of president Katerina Sakellaropoulou's home and vandalism of buildings belonging to Action 24 TV station and the office of Education Minister Niki Kerameus with paint and projectiles by multiple groups of protesters.[37] Many in the public sphere have shown support for Koufontinas including Miguel Urbán, a co-founder of Podemos and film-maker Costa-Gavras.[38][32]

Conspiracy theories[edit]

Some Greek officials considered Revolutionary Struggle (EA), the group that fired a Chinese-made RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy in Athens in January 2007, to be a spin-off of 17N. However, three self-admitted EA members arrested in April 2010 claimed that they were anarchists—a designation 17N rejected in its proclamations.[39] For many years, leading politicians of the right-wing New Democracy party, as well as the conservative press, falsely claimed that Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou was the mastermind behind 17N. Virginia Tsouderou, who became Deputy Foreign Minister in the Mitsotakis government, and journalist Giorgos Karatzaferis (later the founder and leader of a right-wing party, LAOS) claimed that terrorism in Greece was controlled by Papandreist officers of Hellenic National Intelligence Service (the Greek security and intelligence service), and named Kostas Tsimas (the head of EYP) and Colonel Alexakis as two of the supposed controllers of 17N.[40] However, after 17N members were arrested, the only connection between the terrorist organization and PASOK was the fact that Dimitris Koufontinas was a member of PAMK (Panellinia Agonistiki Mathitiki Kinisi, Panhellenic Militant Pupil's Movement). the PASOK militant high school students organization) and an admirer of Andreas Papandreou in his late teens.[41]

Other writers have also claimed that 17N may have been a tool of foreign secret services. In December 2005, Kleanthis Grivas published an article in To Proto Thema, a Greek Sunday newspaper, in which he accused "Sheepskin", the Greek branch of Gladio, NATO's stay-behind paramilitary organization during the Cold War, of the 1975 assassination of Welch, as well as of the 2000 assassination of Saunders. This was denied by the US State Department, which responded that "the Greek terrorist organization '17 November' was responsible for both assassinations", and asserted that Grivas' central piece of evidence had been the "Westmoreland Field Manual," which the State Department, as well as a Congressional inquiry, had dismissed as a Soviet forgery. The State Department also highlighted the fact that, in the case of Richard Welch, "Grivas bizarrely accuses the CIA of playing a role in the assassination of one of its own senior officials" as well as the Greek government's statements to the effect that the "stay behind" network had been dismantled in 1988.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Archived 10 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine 17 November, Revolutionary People's Struggle, Revolutionary Struggle (Greece, leftists)-The Council on Foreign Relations
  2. ^ "National Counterterrorism Center | Groups".
  3. ^ "Proscribed terrorist groups or organisations".
  4. ^ Press release Archived 4 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Greek Police (in Greek)
  5. ^ "Terrorism Act 2000". Schedule 2, Act No. 11 of 2000. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  6. ^ "18 May 2007, Press Release Regarding the 17 November Terrorist Organisation". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. 18 May 2007. Archived from the original on 16 July 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2007.
  7. ^ Foreign Terrorist Organizations Archived 27 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine, U.S. Department of State
  8. ^ Archived 3 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine 17 November Terrorist Organization Chronology of Attacks
  9. ^ Nomikos, John (2007). "Terrorism, Media, and Intelligence in Greece: Capturing the 17 November Group". International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. 20 (1): 65–78. doi:10.1080/08850600600888896. S2CID 154622005.
  10. ^ Times, Steven V. Roberts Special to The New York (26 December 1976). "One Year Later, the Murder of the C.I.A.'s Chief Officer in Athens Remains a Mystery Without Solid Clues (Published 1976)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Athens Reports Slaying Of Ex-Police Official", The New York Times, 16 December 1976, p. 7
  12. ^ Trademark Colt pistol is identified Archived 20 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Kathimerini, 18 July 2002.
  13. ^ Giotopoulos the son of renowned Greek Trotskyite Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Cyprus Mail, 20 July 2002.
  14. ^ "Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-08".
  15. ^ agencies, Staff and (8 June 2000). "British defence attache shot dead in Athens". the Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Δίκη Ε.Ο.17Ν - Μέρα 40". 28 July 2011. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Chronology of all November 17 attacks". Kathimerini. 7 August 2002. Archived from the original on 20 November 2007.
  18. ^ Montalbano, William (27 September 1989). "Greek Scandal Turns Deadly as Terrorists Gun Down Lawmaker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  19. ^ "Murder of Costis Peraticos shocks shipping industry | TradeWinds". TradeWinds | Latest shipping and maritime news. 29 May 1997. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  20. ^ "A Death in Athens". Wall Street Journal. 14 June 2000. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  21. ^ Nov17 trial begins Archived 20 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Kathimerini, 3 March 2003.
  22. ^ Deadly 17 November to end its life in prison Archived 20 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Kathimerini, 18 December 2003.
  23. ^ No TV in 17N trial Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Athens News Agency, 9 December 2005.
  24. ^ Kunz, Didier (5 May 2007). "Le démantèlement du 17-N n'a pas mis fin au terrorisme en Grèce". Spyworld. Le Monde. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  25. ^ "Le chef d'un groupe terroriste condamné à perpétuité en appel". (in French). 23 June 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2009.
  26. ^ "Greece fears return of left-wing terrorism". Deutsche Welle. 8 January 2014. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  27. ^ "Notorious Greek fugitive arrested on bicycle". AFP. 3 January 2015. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  28. ^ "Greek far-left terrorist moved to minimum security prison". WFTV. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 6 August 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  29. ^ "Greek terrorist's prison parole sparks global outrage". The Guardian. 10 November 2017. Archived from the original on 6 August 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  30. ^ Kitsantonis, Niki (3 March 2021). "Protests and Vandalism Follow Hit Man's Hunger Strike". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  31. ^ "Court orders force-feeding of "17. November" convict Koufontinas on hunger & thirst strike". Keep Talking Greece. 24 February 2021. Archived from the original on 28 February 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  32. ^ a b "Greek Prosecutor Calls for Force-Feeding of Convicted Terrorist Koufontinas". 24 February 2021. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  33. ^ Presse, AFP-Agence France. "Greek Hitman On Hunger Strike Suffers Kidney Failure". Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  34. ^ "Convicted Terrorist Koufontinas Ends Hunger Strike". 14 March 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  35. ^ "Police disperse Athens demo in support of convict Dimitris Koufontinas' hunger strike". Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  36. ^ "Attacks in Solidarity with Hunger Striker Dimitris Koufontinas in Athens, Greece". AMW English. 3 February 2021. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  37. ^ "Στόχος το σπίτι της Προέδρου της Δημοκρατίας-Πέταξαν τρικάκια και φώναξαν συνθήματα". euronews (in Greek). 23 February 2021. Archived from the original on 23 February 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  38. ^ "The situation of Dimitris Koufontinas". Archived from the original on 1 March 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  39. ^ Letter from P. Roupa, N. Maziotis, K. Gournas Archived 21 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine,, 29 April 2010.
  40. ^ Eleftheros Tipos, 13 December 1989
  41. ^ Canter, David V. (17 December 2009). The Faces of Terrorism: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-74450-5.
  42. ^ Leventhal, Todd (20 January 2006). "Misinformation about "Gladio/Stay Behind" Networks Resurfaces". Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2009.


  • Nomikos, John (2007). "Terrorism, Media, and Intelligence in Greece: Capturing the 17 November Group". International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. 20 (1): 65–78. doi:10.1080/08850600600888896. S2CID 154622005.

Further reading[edit]

  • Constantine Buhayer, "The UK's Role in Boosting Greek Counter Terrorism Capabilities," Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 September 2002.
  • Kassimeris, George (December 2004). "Fighting for revolution? The life and death of Greece's revolutionary organization 17 November 1975–2002". Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans. 6 (3): 259–273. doi:10.1080/1461319042000296813. S2CID 154325642.
  • Kiesling, John Brady (2014). Greek Urban Warriors: Resistance and Terrorism 1967–2014. Athens: Lycabettus Press. ISBN 978-960-7269-55-3. OCLC 907474685.