By Chloe Hadjimatheou BBC News, Athens
Greek police have stepped up efforts to catch illegal immigrants in recent months, launching a new operation to check the papers of people who look foreign. But tourists have also been picked up in the sweeps – and at least two have been badly beaten.
When Korean backpacker Hyun Young Jung was stopped by a tall scruffy looking man speaking Greek on the street in central Athens he thought it might be some kind of scam, so he dismissed the man politely and continued on his way.
A few moments later he was stopped again, this time by a man in uniform who asked for his documents. But as a hardened traveller he was cautious.
Greece was the 16th stop in his two-year-long round-the-world trip and he’d often been warned about people dressing in fake uniforms to extract money from backpackers, so while he handed over his passport he also asked the man to show him his police ID.
Instead, Jung says, he received a punch in the face.
Within seconds, the uniformed man and his plainclothes partner – the man who had first approached Jung – had him down on the ground and were kicking him, according to the Korean.
In shock, Jung was by now convinced he was being mugged by criminals and began shouting for help from passers-by.
“I was very scared,” he says.
It was only when he was handcuffed and dragged 500m (500 yards) up the road to the nearest police station that he realised he was actually under arrest.
Jung says that outside the station the uniformed officer, without any kind of warning, turned on him again, hitting him in the face.
“There were members of the public who saw what happened, like the man who works in the shop opposite the police station, but they were too afraid to help me,” he says.
Inside the police station, Jung says he was attacked a third time in the stairwell where there were no people or cameras.
“I can understand them asking me for ID and I even understand that there may have been a case to justify them hitting me in the first instance. But why did they continue beating me after I was handcuffed?” he asks.
Jung was held with a number of migrants from Africa and Asia who had also been rounded up as part of the police’s anti-immigration operation Xenios Zeus – named, strangely, after the ancient Greek god of hospitality.
The operation aims to tackle the wave of illegal immigration which over the last decade has changed the face of Athens’s city centre.