Cyprus dismisses British 'child-kidnap' press report
Cyprus dismissed Friday as "totally unfounded" a British newspaper report alleging that a criminal gang had tried to kidnap children at a popular resort on the holiday island.
The Daily Mail reported Thursday that a suspect had been arrested by police at a hotel in the southeastern coastal town of Protaras over "an alleged child-kidnap attempt," adding that the man was found to have footage of children on his mobile phone.
Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos criticised what he said was the newspaper's "sensationalism" and insisted that Cyprus was a safe holiday destination for families.
"With regards to the unnecessary noise being created in Great Britain with regards to the alleged gang of child kidnappers, the government wishes to put the record straight," he said Friday.
"Police officers moved quickly to locate and arrest the unknown individual. who eventually turned out to be a 19-year-old Bulgarian national."
Papadopoulos said the suspect was questioned by police but that "nothing incriminating" was discovered on the man's phone.
"A full search of his home followed during which, once again, nothing suspicious was found in relation to the case or to offences related to the complaint," he added.
Tour operator Thomas Cook said a number of tourists were moved from their hotel following the incident earlier this week.
He said police also visited the hotel premises, where statements were taken from the British parents who had alerted authorities, as well as from children at the resort.
"Once again, no wrongdoing emerged."
Papadopoulos said Cyprus is one of the "safest tourist destinations in the world, both for local and for foreign visitors and their children."
Income from tourism accounts for around 12 percent of Cyprus's GDP, and is credited with helping to soften the blow of the recent economic crisis, which drove the country into recession.
© 2015 AFP