The Latest: Romanian border police tighten controls

AP News
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Posted: Nov 20, 2015 8:55 AM
The Latest: Romanian border police tighten controls

IDOMENI, Greece (AP) — The latest news as hundreds of thousands make their way across Europe in search of safety and a better life. All times local:

3:50 p.m.

Romanian border police have tightened up controls in response to possible threats, leading to long lines of waiting vehicles at the country's borders.

The Romanian police said border controls had been temporarily increased "to prevent people from conflict zones who could carry out activities that are a real threat to internal and foreign security." It did not elaborate on the possible threats.

Digi24 television station reported the increased controls began late Thursday and it was taking drivers more than three hours to cross the border crossing at Nadlac into Hungary. Lines stretched for seven kilometers (4 1/2 miles).

Romania is not on the path that hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers have been taking through the Balkans to get to Western Europe.

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3:15 p.m.

Hungary's prime minister says uncontrolled migration poses a "direct risk" to all European citizens and has already claimed lives in the continent.

Viktor Orban, speaking after a meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, said it was "politically irresponsible" to continue allowing migrants to enter the EU unchecked, since they "may or do commit acts of terror."

Hungary has diverted the migrant flow by building razor-wire fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia.

Gruevski said the flow of some 10,000 migrants a day had become a "constant burden" on Macedonian resources and called for greater cooperation between the Balkan states and the EU to solve the crisis.

Macedonia, along with Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, has begun turning away migrants who are not from war zones such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

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2 p.m.

Denmark's top prosecution authority says a 41-year-old Dane will be charged with smuggling migrants to Sweden, where they are believed to have sought asylum.

Prosecutor Jan Reckendorff says he wants the man, whom he didn't identify, to be fined for violating Danish immigration laws that forbids assisting foreigners to enter Denmark illegally.

Reckendorff said in Friday's statement the man in September drove five Afghan refugees from the German city of Flensburg, south of Denmark's border, to a Sweden-bound ferry in the northern Danish port town of Grenaa.

Reckendorff said it was now up to the courts of law to decide. No date for a trial was immediately announced.

In September, scores of Danes openly explained how they helped migrants crossing Europe to reach neighboring Sweden.

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1:30 p.m.

Greek authorities have started supplementary identity checks on immigrants reaching Athens by ferry from the country's eastern islands, after breaking up a ring that sold fake identity documents to migrants arriving on Lesbos.

About 1,500 refugees and other migrants who reached Athens' port of Piraeus early Friday were scrutinized as they disembarked from the Ariadni ferry. Dozens were taken aside and driven away in police buses for further checks.

The crackdown followed the arrests on Lesbos late Thursday of about 10 people, including Afghan, Pakistani and Iraqi nationals, who allegedly sold forged police identity documents to newly arrived migrants.

Police said the gang was charging 300-400 euros for each document, and is believed to have been selling up to 500 a day.

That would allow migrants to circumvent the official registration process, and buy ferry tickets for Piraeus without being screened by authorities on Lesbos — where most migrants crossing to Greece from Turkey arrive.

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11:50 a.m.

Tempers have flared at Greece's main border crossing with Macedonia, where riot police pushed back thousands of migrants jostling to cross over, after Macedonia blocked access to people deemed to be economic migrants and not refugees.

Holding their identity papers aloft, several hundred Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, who are being allowed into Macedonia, crossed the border Friday morning until police halted the flow again to ease congestion on the Macedonian side.

Once across, migrants head for the nearby Gevgelija train station, to continue by rail north through Serbia toward wealthier northern European Union countries.

About 3,000 people remain on the Greek side of the border near the village of Idomeni, including about 1,000 Iranians and north Africans whom Macedonia is not letting in.

Overnight, police led some 4,000 people into Macedonia by routes circumventing Idomeni, after migrants who are not being allowed in blocked the official crossing to complain about being excluded.