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Man arrested for throwing shoe at Greece's prime minister

From Elinda Labropoulou, For CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The man describes the act as a protest against the government's austerity measures
  • He has been released from a local police station
  • Greek PM George Papandreou was attending an international trade fair

Athens, Greece (CNN) -- A 49-year-old doctor was arrested Saturday for throwing a shoe at Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in protest of the government's austerity measures.

The shoe missed its intended target and the man, identified as radiologist Stergios Pravazeris, was taken to a local police station along with his 15-year-old daughter and farmer Stavros Vitalis, who was with the pair at the time. Police said that all three have been released.

Pravazeris told Greek media that he is a member of a newly founded activist group called The Patriotic Front (PAM), which protests government policies.

On its website, the group "calls upon the Greek people to express their displeasure by throwing their old shoes along the Prime Minister's journey from the airport to the Thessaloniki International Fair."

Pravazeris described the shoe-throwing incident as "a political act against the government's austerity policies" and warned that "many more will follow."

He declined to indicate how many followers his group has recruited.

The incident took place in the northern city of Thessaloniki where Papandreou was attending the opening of an international trade fair. He was scheduled to give a speech later in the day about the future of the Greek economy.

Labor unions were also holding demonstrations in Thessaloniki ahead of the prime minister's speech, fearing that he will be announcing further measures.

The austerity measures were introduced in spring in a bid to decrease Greece's budget deficit from around 14 percent of its gross domestic product to under the EU limit of 3 percent by 2014.

Greece was saved from default in May when the European Union and the International Monetary Fund agreed to a 110 billion euro, three-year bailout.