Tom Hanks and wife get Greek citizenship for wildfire aid

In this photo provided by Greek Prime Minister’s Office, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitstotakis, second left, his wife Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotaki, left, pose next to U.S. actor Tom Hanks , right, and his wife Rita Wilson holding up their new Greek passports, in the island of Antiparos, Greece on Saturday, July 25, 2020. Greece offered citizenship Hanks, Wilson, and their two children, in recognition of the family’s help in assisting victims of a deadly wildfire near Athens in 2018. (Greek Prime Minister’s Office via AP)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A point of pride for Greece was touched by controversy Monday, as the country’s prime minister was criticized by an opposition party for using a military helicopter during a trip to celebrate with Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, on being granted Greek citizenship.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, Prime Minister Kyriakos shared a photograph of showing him and his wife Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotaki at a meeting with Hanks and Wilson, who were holding up their new Greek passports.

“Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks are now proud Greek citizens,” Mitsotakis wrote in the post.

Greece offered citizenship to Hanks, Wilson, and their two children, in recognition of the family’s help in raising funds for the victims of a deadly wildfire near Athens in 2018.

Wilson, an actress and producer, has Greek and Bulgarian ancestry.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Monday that the prime minister and his wife had used a commercial flight on Saturday to travel to the island of Paros, and then traveled to nearby Antiparos, where Hanks and Wilson have a holiday home. They then used a military helicopter for a trip to the ancient theater of Epidaurus on Sunday to watch a performance of an ancient tragedy.

The main left-wing opposition Syriza party accused the prime minister of using Greece’s military helicopters like a “personal radio taxi.”

Petsas argued that Mitsotakis was performing his duties as prime minister by attending an “important cultural event.”

Neither Petsas nor Syriza referred to Hanks by name.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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