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Greek police arrest Golden Dawn far-right party leader

Greek police have arrested the leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party on charges of forming a criminal organization. Police have said they also arrested a lawmaker after filing warrants.

Nikos Mihaloliakos (pictured right), the leader of the Golden Dawn party, was arrested early Saturday, Greek police say.

"The secretary general and one lawmaker of the Golden Dawn Party were arrested a short while ago after arrest warrants were issued," Greek police announced in a text message to journalists.

Warrants for the arrest of at least three other Golden Dawn parliamentary deputies have been issued. The police counterterrorism unit is looking for the deputies. More warrants are expected.

Golden Dawn is a far-right political party often linked to violent incidents in the country, especially against immigrants. Its supporters have been seen giving Nazi salutes, but denies the neo-Nazi label. Mihaloliakos, arrested on Saturday, has denied the Holocaust.

The party has seen its popularity spike as Greece has dealt with its financial crisis and adopted severe austerity measures in order to receive international bailouts. The party polled 7 percent in the 2012 elections and currently holds 18 seats in Greece's 300-seat parliament.

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Crackdown on Golden Dawn

The arrests come more than a week after the killing of the left-wing activist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by an alleged Golden Dawn member. Fyssas performed under the stage name Killah P.

The man being held in connection with Fyssas's death admitted to the killing and also claimed to belong to Golden Dawn.

Fyssas's death has prompted the government to take a closer look at Golden Dawn's activities. Party offices have been raided and party supporters thought to have taken part in attacks have been investigated.

Golden Dawn recently threatened to leave parliament if the crackdown does not stop, which would prompt by-elections in the recession-hit country.

hc/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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