Publication by former CIA agent Philip Agee of an article on CIA presence in this country has embarrassed and reportedly infuriated the Greek government.
The article, published Saturday in the left-of-center biweekly magazine "Anti," names 64 Americans he claims are now here as CIA employees, plus another 175 he alleges previously served in Greece. Agee called on Greeks to work for the Americans' expulsion.
The article has become a source of controversy among Greece's increasingly sensitive political groups on both the left and right.
For the conservative Constantine Karamanlis government, now working to improve relations with the United States, its publication came during an increasingly delicate period. The initial Greek euphoria that accompanied the election of President Carter has given way to disilusionment as Washington has failed to perform up to Greek expectations in solving Greece's problems with Turkey.
With anti-Americanism smoldering again beneath the surface, the government attempted to stop publication of "Anti's" 30-page CIA supplement, offering the magazine full financial compensation, according to a senior member of the staff. Officially, the government spokesman refused any comment on the publication.
After consultations with the government, Greek newspaper editors either killed the CIA story or, with the exception of "Avghi," the Euro-Communist daily, ran it as a short news item on an inside page.
There is the remembrance that Richard Welch, then CIA chief of station, was assassinated in December 1975 outside his home in Athens, after his name and address were published in the Athens press.
Greeks are scooping up copies of the "Anti" supplement, however, and distributors report unprecedented sales. In one popular coffeehouse, nearly every customer was hunched over a copy of the magazine, which has a dramatic cover with a photograph of Agee and the headline "These Are The 64 CIA Agents . . ." in white letters against black.
The implications for the Karamanlis government could be serious. Opposition members of parliment are already discussing the possibilty of demanding a parliamentary inquiry and the summary explusion of the 64 Americans.
"President Carter himself has declared that the CIA will no longer be permitted to engage in covert operations leading to the overthrow of foreign governments," said Virginia Tsouderou, opposition member of Parliament. "And with such an excessive CIA staff in Athens, what could they be doing, considering the fact that our own services work with them in such close liaison, except interfering in our internal affairs.
"We should certainly demand a clarification of what these people are doing and, following that, move for the expulsion of some . . . Any self-respecting government, whether of karamanlis or Carter, must abandon this old-fashioned, antiquated policy of interference in an independent country's affairs."
"I don't like this kind of irresponsibility," said a conservative member of Karamanlis' New Democracy Party, referring to the Agee article. "It's an open invitation to assassination . . . but, I must say, I'm staggered by the immensity of the CIA mission. I wonder if this is know to our Ministry of Foreign Affairs?"