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Greece: 54-year-old man released after arrest linked to attack on gold mining company

  • d8e897dbcec5c805290f6a706700a29d.jpg

    An employee of Hellas Gold, looks at a burnt mining facility near the village of Skouries, located on the northern peninsula of Halkidiki Greece, on Sunday, Feb. 17 2013. About 40 masked attackers raided the facilities of a prospective gold mine in northern Greece overnight Sunday, setting machinery and offices alight, authorities said. There has long been opposition to the prospect of a gold mine and processing plant being built at Skouries in the Halkidiki peninsula, with some residents objecting to what they say will be the destruction of the environment and of pristine forest in the area, leading to the loss of tourism and other local activities such as farming, the rearing of livestock and fishing. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis) (The Associated Press)

  • 9853d985cebec805290f6a70670072c7.jpg

    Employees of Hellas Gold, are stand behind a burnt van at a mining facility near the village of Skouries, located on the northern peninsula of Halkidiki Greece, on Sunday, Feb. 17 2013. About 40 masked attackers raided the facilities of a prospective gold mine in northern Greece overnight Sunday, setting machinery and offices alight, authorities said. There has long been opposition to the prospect of a gold mine and processing plant being built at Skouries in the Halkidiki peninsula, with some residents objecting to what they say will be the destruction of the environment and of pristine forest in the area, leading to the loss of tourism and other local activities such as farming, the rearing of livestock and fishing. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis) (The Associated Press)

  • b976d404cec2c805290f6a706700fa80.jpg

    A burnt truck of Hellas Gold, stands at a mining facility near the village of Skouries, located on the northern peninsula of Halkidiki Greece, on Sunday, Feb. 17 2013. About 40 masked attackers raided the facilities of a prospective gold mine in northern Greece overnight Sunday, setting machinery and offices alight, authorities said. There has long been opposition to the prospect of a gold mine and processing plant being built at Skouries in the Halkidiki peninsula, with some residents objecting to what they say will be the destruction of the environment and of pristine forest in the area, leading to the loss of tourism and other local activities such as farming, the rearing of livestock and fishing. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis) (The Associated Press)

  • c0ba15eccebcc805290f6a7067009936.jpg

    Employees of Hellas Gold, are seen through a burnt van at a mining facility near the village of Skouries, located on the northern peninsula of Halkidiki Greece, on Sunday, Feb. 17 2013. About 40 masked attackers raided the facilities of a prospective gold mine in northern Greece overnight Sunday, setting machinery and offices alight, authorities said. There has long been opposition to the prospect of a gold mine and processing plant being built at Skouries in the Halkidiki peninsula, with some residents objecting to what they say will be the destruction of the environment and of pristine forest in the area, leading to the loss of tourism and other local activities such as farming, the rearing of livestock and fishing. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis) (The Associated Press)

  • 4caaa073cebcc805290f6a706700619b.jpg

    Burnt trucks and tractors stand at a mining facility of Hellas Gold, near the village of Skouries, located on the northern peninsula of Halkidiki Greece, on Sunday, Feb. 17 2013. About 40 masked attackers raided the facilities of a prospective gold mine in northern Greece overnight Sunday, setting machinery and offices alight, authorities said. There has long been opposition to the prospect of a gold mine and processing plant being built at Skouries in the Halkidiki peninsula, with some residents objecting to what they say will be the destruction of the environment and of pristine forest in the area, leading to the loss of tourism and other local activities such as farming, the rearing of livestock and fishing. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis) (The Associated Press)

A Greek prosecutor ordered the release Monday of a 54-year-old man hours after he was arrested in connection with an attack on a gold mining company in which about 40 masked intruders torched machinery and vehicles.

Police had arrested the man for "moral instigation" of the attack due to his contributions to an anti-mining blog. The prosecutor later ordered him released without officially charging him, while also ordering the investigation to continue.

Opposition to the Skouries mining project in northern Greece's Halkidiki peninsula runs deep, and the area has seen numerous protests in recent months, some of which have turned violent. The mining company, Hellas Gold, is 95 percent owned by Canada's Eldorado Gold Inc. and is planning a gold mine and processing plant in the area.

Residents are divided between those who fear environmental destruction and those who support the mine for its job prospects at a time of severe financial crisis and spiraling unemployment.

In the overnight attack between Saturday and Sunday, intruders overpowered security guards at the Skouries facility or forced them to flee before dousing machinery, vehicles and containers used as offices with gasoline and setting the place alight.

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