Skip to main content

Greece: MFRR partners welcome acquittal of journalists in Novartis criminal case

Criminal case points to far deeper issues for press freedom in Greece
 
The partner organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today welcome the resounding exoneration of four Greek journalists and publishers who faced criminal charges and potential lengthy prison sentences linked to their media outlets’ investigative reporting which unveiled the Novartis pharmaceutical scandal. The acquittals represent an important validation of watchdog journalism in Greece and a vital – yet costly – victory for the rule of law and press freedom.

On 30 June 2022, the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court ruled that all allegations made against the journalists were baseless and declined to send them to full trial at the Special Court. The four journalists were: Kostas Vaxevanis, a veteran investigative journalist and publisher of Documento newspaper, Ioanna Papadakou, a former investigative journalist for To Vima newspaper, Ioannis Filippakis, publisher of newspaper Dimokratia and Alexandros Tarkas, a reporter at Dimokratia. 

If eventually convicted of the four criminal charges – which included alleged membership of a criminal organisation which conspired to fabricate news stories about the Novartis scandal and three separate counts of conspiracy – each could have faced prison sentences of up to 20 years. All four maintained their innocence throughout the proceedings in the face of intense pressure.

Over the last six months our organisations have been closely following the hearings, called for guarantees of independence in the process, registered our concern on the Council of Europe’s safety of journalists platform, carefully assessed the evidence presented by prosecutors, and have been in contact with the journalists to provide support.

In our view, the evidence presented against the journalists lacked substance or legitimacy from the outset. Each of the journalists has expressed concern that the charges against them were a politically motivated attempt to criminalise them and punish their media outlets for years of hard-hitting investigative reporting.

The criminal nature of the charges, their connection to reporting on corruption, and the potential imprisonment of journalists in an EU Member State, raised major concerns amongst our organisations and at the European level, all at a time when Greece was already in the spotlight over a decline in press freedom under the New Democracy government. These criminal charges were among the most serious levied against members of the press anywhere in the EU at that time.

While the news of their acquittal is welcome, we are deeply concerned by the pressure faced by the journalists during the proceedings. Comments made by certain politicians and in particular Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – who referred to some of the journalists as a “gang” in parliament – were deeply regrettable. This pressure has taken a serious psychological toll on all of those involved. Meanwhile, an MEP who spoke out publicly against the criminal charges and raised concern about the freedom of the media was expelled from the party.

In our view, this case is emblematic of far wider issues facing media freedom and the exercise of independent journalism in Greece. As outlined in our recent MFRR mission report, legal threats against the press are just one of a multitude of pressures which have created a hostile environment for watchdog reporting and undermine media freedom. While the signing of a memorandum aimed at strengthening the protection and safety of journalists is – if implemented properly – a welcome first step forward, the Greek government has a long way to go. Moving forward, steps must be taken to foster a media landscape in which the kind of brave watchdog journalism exemplified in this case is allowed to flourish.

Signed:

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

International Press Institute (IPI)

OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

Source:


Related:
 

 
 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Julian Assange and the rapid decline of liberal Democracy

by system failure We are now in 2023, and after 1362 days, Julian Assange is still in prison. If you seek something to measure the decline of liberal Democracy in our days, the Julian Assange case will help you a lot. And it's most amazing that in the era of information overflow (with plenty of means available to transfer it almost instantly in every corner of the planet), there are still many people who are unaware of the Assange case.   The origins of this deterioration go back in 1968 when the Left made a disastrous compromise with the powers of the establishment. Since the early 70s and after Nixon's shock , the cultural domination of neoliberalism paved the way for the restriction of certain types of liberties in Western societies.  The 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 became the perfect opportunity for the establishment to abolish instantly a significant portion of the civil liberties that came out of the 1968 compromise. The liberal Democracy in the West suffered a heavy

Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges & Vijay Prashad expose NATO

acTVism Munich    

Proof Twitter censored anyone CIA & FBI told them to!

The Jimmy Dore Show   When Viktor Shokin, a former Prosecutor General of Ukraine and notable target of onetime Vice President Joe Biden, wrote a book about his experiences in office, there were powerful individuals within the U.S. Government who didn’t want people reading this book, or even becoming aware it existed. And that’s why government agents insisted Twitter censor accounts promoting Shokin’s book, along with countless others in the tsunami of demands for censorship from government agencies that were flooding into the social media company prior to the 2020 election. Guest host Aaron Maté and journalist Matt Taibbi discuss the very dangerous precedent established by this unseemly private-public censorial partnership.

Can we save Julian Assange? Intellectuals & journalists speak out!

acTVism Munich   To close out the year, we summarize our work on the Julian Assange case by compiling excerpts of statements we recorded from Edward Snowden, Noam Chomsky, Stella Assange, Jeremy Corbyn, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Jay, Jill Stein, Nils Melzer, Chris Hedges, Tariq Ali, John Pilger, Jennifer Robinson, Srecko Horvat, and Angela Richter. We hope to continue our coverage of this case next year!  

New JFK/CIA revelations & our alarmingly secretive security state

Glenn Greenwald   Allen Dulles was probably the second or third most powerful person in Washington - maybe the most powerful in 1950s - when he ran the CIA until JFK fired him in 1961 because he blamed Dulles for the failed fiasco in the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. And Dulles had every reason in the world to want to kill Kennedy, as did a lot of people in the CIA.  

Economists Radhika Desai & Michael Hudson explain multipolarity, decline of US hegemony

Geopolitical Economy Report   Introducing Geopolitical Economy Hour: This is the first episode of a show being hosted every two weeks by economists Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson. They present the program and discuss the rise of the multipolar world and decline of US hegemony.

January 21, 2010: The day corporate dictatorship destroyed the last remnants of US Democracy

globinfo freexchange     As we described many times in this blog, corporate power grew rapidly since the early 70s with the rise of neoliberalism and its subsequent establishment as the dominant culture, especially in the West.  In the motherland of neoliberalism, the United States, corporations essentially legalized corruption in politics during the 70s in order to capture the entire political system and put it under their complete control. As David Harvey describes in his book A Brief History of Neoliberalism :                          The supposedly ‘progressive’ campaign finance laws of 1971 in effect legalized the financial corruption of politics. A crucial set of Supreme Court decisions began in 1976 when it was first established that the right of a corporation to make unlimited money contributions to political parties and political action committees was protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing the rights of individuals (in this instance corporations) to freedom of speec

Human workforce under severe threat as hyper-automation spreads rapidly

globinfo freexchange     Remember when US workers in fast-food industry were fighting for higher minimum wages? In September, there has been some news circulation about such a prospect concerning the state of California. Yet, while workers struggle hard to achieve even a small raise, the fast-food industry is at least three steps ahead using robots and hyper-automation as what appears to be an unbeatable competitor against human workforce!   Indeed, the first almost fully automated McDonald's opened recently in Texas:   At one McDonald’s location in Texas, robots are now serving up Big Macs. Amid a growing desire for fast food giants to automate their processes, the first mostly robot-run McDonald’s restaurant is currently being tested in Fort Worth, Texas. At this location, there are no human cashiers in sight. Even the restaurant itself is smaller and has no seating, designed to serve the grab-and-go crowd, rather than sit-down diners.   Upon entry, digital tills take customer o

Jeremy Corbyn on freeing Julian Assange, the working class, Brazil, Peru & ending Ukraine War

Democracy Now!   In Washington, D.C., human rights and free speech advocates gather today for the Belmarsh Tribunal, focused on the imprisonment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been languishing for close to four years in the harsh Belmarsh prison in London while appealing extradition to the United States on espionage charges. If convicted, Assange could face up to 175 years in jail for publishing documents that exposed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Five major news organizations that once partnered with WikiLeaks recently called on the Biden administration to drop charges against Assange.    British MP and former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is in Washington, D.C., to participate in the Belmarsh Tribunal, speaks about Assange and freedom of the press. We also speaks about the state of leftism around the globe, from labor rights in the U.K. and Europe to the war in Ukraine, to political unrest in Brazil and Peru. 

Russia dropping US dollar for Chinese yuan - and fast

Multipolarista   In response to Western sanctions, Russia's central bank is dropping the US dollar and plans to buy Chinese yuan on the foreign exchange market. The yuan's share of trading on Russia's currency market increased from 1% to 40-45% in less than a year, while dollar trade halved from 80% to 40%. Moscow has quickly become the world's fourth-biggest offshore trading center for renminbi.