An international network of militant Trotskyists, the politically passionate heir to a Greek shipping fortune, an adventurous 1969 escape from confinement in Greece under the Colonels: these are the larger-than-life elements of The Amorgos Conspiracy, in which Greek-American author Elias Kulukundis tells how he liberated political leader Georgios Mylonas, who was also his father-in-law, from the island of Amorgos, where the military dictatorship had forced him into exile.
Just out in Greece, the book will be published in the US in 2013. ”It all happened for real, even though it reads like a fantasy,” the author told ANSAmed during a visit to Rome.
Kulukundis recounted how Socialist leader Andreas Papandreou, then in exile, was cold to the idea of springing Mylonas from the island. Undeterred, the writer went ahead with his plan. ”We visited my father-in-law. He told us he had to sign in at the police station once in the morning, and once at 6 p.m. Then he was allowed to take a walk to the tip of the island. There was an Orthodox monastery there, with beach access. We realized that was our only window to get him out.”
Through his travels in Europe, including Italy, and the Middle East, Kulukundis put together a boatload of fake Italian tourists culled from the Greek resistance and mostly Italian leftist networks. They set off for Amorgos, where they allegedly wished to visit the Panayia Khozoviotissa monastery.
Among those on board was journalist Mario Scialoja, whose reportage on their exploit would appear in L’Espresso magazine. ”We bought a timer that would turn the lights on in Mylonas’ house at 6.45 p.m., so the police would think he’d gone home after his walk. But he was on the beach, where we picked him up,” Kulukundis explained.
They set off for Turkey, where a Swedish diplomat facilitated their flight. Mylonas’ escape, which became public only two months later, was instrumental in shifting public opinion in many European countries towards expelling Greece from the Council of Europe: a first collective, democratic response to a dictatorship, which ”many looked on with a degree of benevolence,” the writer said. ”It is a story that also has a lot to do with Italy, and I would love to publish it here as well.”