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Cyprus retracts ‘data theft’ accusation against Turkey: report

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Cyprus’ government spokesman on Thursday backpedaled on a claim that Turkey may have stolen technical data it used to pinpoint a target for gas drilling in waters where the island nation has exclusive economic rights, The Associated Press reported.

Government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos told AP the word “stolen” he uttered on Greece’s state broadcaster ERT on Wednesday was a mistaken “a slip of the tongue” and that no such data theft had occurred.

But he said Turkey had obtained some data that enabled it to send a drill ship to a specific location south of the Cypriot coastal town of Limassol that energy companies Eni and Total had pre-selected to carry out their own exploratory drilling.

Koushos said that data may have been gleaned from a Turkish research vessel that had for months scoured the area — also known as Block 8 — in search of geological information that could hint at gas deposits locked underneath the seabed.

The spokesman also said it was unclear if Turkish authorities had obtained some information about Block 8 from the Cypriot Environment Ministry’s own website, which had posted Eni-provided geological data about the area back in 2017.

Koushos said that data had to be made public in accordance with the existing laws at the time. But those laws were amended in 2018.

Turkey’s drilling activities have ratcheted up tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

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