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Cyprus deports French despite terror threat being ruled out

Cyprus will send back to Switzerland Tuesday six French citizens who had been detained at an airport on suspicion of extremist links but now not considered to be a danger, authorities said.

The six — five men of Turkish descent and one of Algerian origin — were detained Saturday evening after arriving at Larnaca airport on a flight from Basel, Switzerland, police said.

There was no indication they had planned to stay in Cyprus but were more likely in transit, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said Monday, without specifying if they were headed for Syria.

Police said Tuesday the men were not deemed terrorists but were still being sent back after being denied entry into the country.

“These people are not considered terrorists but we had our reasons for denying them entry and they are being sent back today,” police spokesman Andreas Angelides told AFP, without elaborating.

Official sources said the fact the men were not being escorted back shows they were not deemed a threat.

Cyprus said it had informed the Swiss authorities of the situation and it was up to them to take any further action.

The six were known to the French authorities as part of a Muslim association, a French source said.

“This is a group of bearded men who openly have an Islamic appearance,” the source said, adding that like all other passengers on the flight to Larnaca, they had been checked by the French authorities.

Cyprus has stepped up security at its airports, ports and other public places following the jihadist attacks in Paris earlier this month that left 130 people dead.