Ultra-tight security planned for Obama visit to Athens on Tuesday

Greek and U.S. authorities are expected to finalise the ultra-tight and escalating security operation planned for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday, in deliberations taking place on Monday evening.

The first security measures in the Greek capital were already in place on Monday and will continue tightening ahead of the visit, with U.S. agents having the first say in their planning and organisation, in collaboration with the Hellenic Police (ELAS).

U.S. sources said that the president will arrive with an escort and security personnel exceeding 500 people, most of whom are currently in Greece. Also in the country since Friday, carried by cargo planes, are the armoured limousine and the cars that will carry the U.S. President and his escorts during the visit, as well as a helicopter and the heavy weapons to be used by the president’s security detail and the strike force teams that will screen the areas where he will visit. In addition to the above, there are a number of support vehicles equipped with the latest electronic security equipment, such as machinery that can locate and neutralise bombs, or turn off mobile phones and other electronic devices.

The areas where the U.S. president will pass will be locked down at least half an hour beforehand, with snipers ranged all around on rooftops and other vantage points, and a mobile hospital with a staff of 150 on standby, also from the United States.

The president’s security team will only inform Greek services about Obama’s movements at the last minute, while his personal escort and security team will number around 300.

The Greek security operation will have a force of 4,500 officers, who will accompany the U.S. president, cordon off areas and roads and provide other forms of cover.

Among the tight security measures planned are restrictions on vehicle traffic that will go into effect throughout the Greek capital on Tuesday and Wednesday, until the end of the visit. Roads will initially be closed along the route between the Athens Airport and the hotel where Obama will be staying and then modified depending traffic conditions and the president’s movements.

Roads will close some time before Obama and his escort are due to pass by and open again after a period of time that has not yet been specified.

According to the Attica traffic police, provision has been made for measures to facilitate traffic in Athens during the visit, with the police advising motorists to comply with the directions given by traffic police to avoid further congestion.