Greek police arrest Syrian refugees disguised as volleyball team

Nine Syrians were trying to board a flight to Vienna with fake travel documents

Nine Syrian refugees pretending to be a volleyball team were arrested in Greece as they tried to travel to Austria. Hellenic Police
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Greek police detained nine Syrian refugees pretending to be a volleyball team as they attempted to board a flight for Vienna, Austria, with fake travel documents.

The refugees were wearing matching sports clothing and backpacks, but were stopped late on Sunday when police became suspicious.

It was found they did not belong to a sports club after the discovery of fake ID cards.

Greece is often the first EU country in which refugees and migrants fleeing Syria arrive. They are supposed to remain in the country while their asylum applications are processed.

There were two similar incidents in the past two years, authorities at Athens airport said.

In 2020, a dozen Syrians carrying fake Bulgarian passports and disguised as handball players were stopped while trying to board a flight to Vienna.

The year before, 10 Syrians dressed as volleyball players were detained at the airport after stolen and forged passports were discovered in their possession.

Under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who took office in 2019, Greece has taken on a tougher position on migration.

The asylum process has been fast-tracked, border patrols increased and benefits cut for refugees, including those granted asylum.