The Salonika Bay Murder: Cold War Politics and the Polk Affair

Edmund Keeley, Author Princeton University Press $45 (395p) ISBN 978-0-691-05565-7
A Greek equivalent of the Dreyfus affair, the Polk murder case involved one George Polk, an independent-minded American correspondent for CBS, whose body was discovered in 1948 in Salonika Bay, a bullet hole in the head. Polk had gone to Greece to interview the Greek communist guerrilla leader Markos Vafiadis in his secret mountain headquarters. The official solution to the crime was that it was the work of ex-communist journalist Gregory Staktopoulos, a local stringer for Reuters, and two co-conspirators. But Keeley, chairman of Princeton's Hellenic Studies Committee, presents compelling evidence that Staktopoulos was innocent, his confession obtained by torture. With civil war raging, Greek officials desperately wanted to pin the crime on communists, and they apparently did so with collusion from the U.S. State Department, the OSS (later to become the CIA) and American and British diplomats. The murder has never been solved, but complicity between the Greek, British and U.S. governments evidently led to the scapegoating of innocent men and a whitewashing of this official cover-up. Buttressed by declassified documents and interviews with participants, this gripping account of a complicated case sheds fresh light on the pernicious effects of clandestine operations on democratic institutions. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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