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Tens of thousands protest in solidarity with Greek hunger striker as he nears death

TENS of thousands took to the streets of the Greek capital Athens on Tuesday night in solidarity with hunger striker Dimitris Koufontinas, who is believed to be close to death after 55 days without food.

The prisoner from the revolutionary organisation 17 November, which was banned and disbanded in 2002 as a terrorist group by the Greek authorities, has also gone without water since February 22.

He is now being treated in the intensive care unit at the Lamia General Hospital, where his condition is said to have deteriorated.

Mr Koufontinas, who was given 11 life sentences plus 25 years in prison for his participation in a total of 11 murders, explosions and robberies, has been held at the Domokos agricultural prison near Lamia.

His request to be transferred to the Korydallos prison in Athens, something that he claimed was his legal right, has been denied by the right-wing New Democracy government.

It has been urged by Greek opposition parties to change its hard-line stance and avoid what has been described as the first death from hunger strike in a European prison since Irish National Liberation Army volunteer Michael Devine in Long Kesh in 1981.

Lawyers joined Tuesday night’s march, saying they would defend the “fundamental guarantees of our country’s rule of law” until the last hour and solidarity actions have taken place across Europe.

Supporters stormed the Berlin offices of the German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle demanding it break its silence over “the planned murder of Dimitris Koufontinas by the Greek state.”

Activists have accused Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of a personal vendetta against Mr Koufontinas because one of his relatives was killed by the N17 group.

Social media giant Facebook has been accused of censoring information regarding Mr Koufontinas, suspending the pages and streaming events of Greek journalists, reporters, historians, civil society and political groups that have been monitored by the Athens arm of the French-based firm Teleperformance, the self-professed “global leader in customer experience management,” which is accused of ties to the government and the Greek far right.

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