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Europe reacts to AP story as Greece uses ‘sound cannon’ at border

Police officer Dimitris Bistinas operates a long range acoustic device (LRAD) from a police vehicle during a patrol alongside the Greek-Turkish border near the town of Feres, Greece, May 21, 2021. The deafening “sound cannon” is part of an automated hi-tech surveillance network being built on the border to detect and deter migrants from crossing. (AP Photo / Giannis Papanikos)

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The Athens, Greece, team of reporter Derek Gatopoulos, video journalist Srdjan Nedeljkovic, freelance reporter Costas Kantouris and freelance photographer Giannis Papanikos gave AP an exclusive all-formats look at an earsplitting sonic weapon that Greek police are using to repel migrants at the border with Turkey. While local media had reported about the so-called “sound cannon” when police received it last year, AP was the first to show it actually deployed on the border as part of Greece’s vast array of physical and experimental digital barriers aimed at preventing people from entering the European Union illegally.

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A police officer monitors the Greek-Turkish border from an operation center in the village of Nea Vyssa, Greece, May 21, 2021. – AP Photo / Giannis Papanikos

The story’s impact was immediate, prompting strong reactions from European politicians and human rights activists. Several European lawmakers questioned whether using a sound device against migrants was compatible with the EU’s commitment to human rights. Referring to the AP report, the European Commission expressed concern about the system and sought consultations with the Greek government over the issue.

More than 40 European TV networks used the story and Gatopoulos was interviewed by Australian radio. Unable to ignore the piece, a major competitor ran a text story later in the week, with Greek police confirming their use of the sonic device.

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