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Greek Legal Analysis: Alexi Giannoulias, Draft Dodger

12:00 AM, Oct 25, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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In September, Big Government first reported that Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias may have dodged the Greek military service requirement when he lived and worked in Greece in the late 1990s:

From 1998 to 1999, Alexi Giannoulias played professional basketball in Panionios B.C. Greece. That part we already knew.  

But one thing we still don’t know is how an American with Greek citizenship was able to live in Greece without being drafted into the Greek military. 

The Giannoulias campaign flatly denied any wrongdoing at the time – claiming Greece had no service requirement when Giannoulias lived there.  The Springfield-based State Journal-Register reported:

KATHLEEN STRAND, spokeswoman for Giannoulias, said the candidate has dual citizenship by virtue of the fact that his father was born in Greece. However, since Giannoulias was never a permanent resident of Greece, he wouldn’t be required to serve in the Greek military.

“There was no draft when he was there” while playing basketball, she added.

But according to a legal analysis prepared by a prestigious Athens-based law firm, the Giannoulias campaign lied to reporters.

The legal memorandum, issued by the Law Office of P. Yatagantzidis & Associates and obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD, states that mandatory military service was in effect when Alexi Giannoulias was in Greece and would have applied to a dual citizen like Giannoulias.

All Greek men are required to serve. There is no exemption for Greek men who hold dual citizenship (except for those born between the years 1945-1959).  In principle, it is also irrelevant whether you live in Greece or not…

… There was a military service obligation in the year 1998 for all Greeks including those living abroad…

… The individual referred to in the facts, is a Greek citizen since he has a Greek father, so in principle he has to serve in the Greek armed forces.  Assuming that he settled in the States before the age of eleven and resided there permanently, he is qualified as “permanent resident abroad” in the sense of law…

… Assuming that the individual stayed in Greece for more than six months in a single calendar year, it is difficult to imagine of legal reasons to get around the service obligation.

The memorandum suggests that if Alexi Giannoulias lived in Greece for more than six months in any calendar year, he was required to serve in the military.  News reports indicate Giannoulias lived in Greece for at least one year.  From the Chicago Tribune:

Then it was off to Greece for a year to play pro basketball before returning stateside, where he enrolled at Tulane and specialized in environmental law.

Alexi Giannoulias has built his entire campaign for U.S. Senate around attacks against a man who volunteered to serve in the military.  If voters found out Giannoulias dodged his own military service requirement, his campaign message could be wholly undermined.

So the key question for Alexi Giannoulias is this: Why did you dodge the draft?  

Here's the full text of the legal opinion offered by the Law Office of P. Yatagantzidis & Associates:

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