Reports started coming in early this afternoon that the government was intending either to shut down or to downsize the National Radio and Television corporation (ERT), with a purpose to sack its employees and reach the targets it agreed with Greece’s troika of lenders (the EU, ECB and IMF) to sack 15,000 civil servants by the end of 2014. By late afternoon, the reports had become that ERT would be shut down by midnight. ERT currently employs 2,656 civil servants with tenure and 246 fixed-term staff, who all stand now to lose their jobs.
Sackings on such a scale are unlikely to improve the situation of press freedom in Greece. Dimitris Trimis, the chairman of the Athens Daily Newspaper Editors’ Union, told is last week on the #rbnews international show:
The thousands of sackings in media, the pay cuts, the fear that media will collapse and shut down, together with the parameter I just mentioned [the unhealthy links between media, big business and politics], creates a climate of violent censorship and self-censorship among people who work in the media. Therefore, we cannot talk of freedom of expression, and this is why international researchers keep demoting Greece in indexes where countries are ranked according to freedom of speech and objectivity, or at least honesty, in information.
As we posted earlier today, the re-trial of Kostas Vaxevanis for publishing, back in October 2012, a list of 2000+ names of Greek bank account holders in Switzerland, known as the Lagarde list, was due to take place this morning in the Athens courthouse. It took the court a full hour and a half, from 9:00 until 10:30am, and three private conversations in recess, to determine that, in the absence of two of three defense lawyers and of three of four defense witnesses, the trial should be postponed.
This week, on the occasion of the upcoming appeals trial of Kostas Vaxevanis, the journalist who was arrested and tried once already in November 2012 for publishing the Lagarde list in his magazine HOT DOC, the #rbnews international show focused on the issue of freedom of the press in Greece. We were able to interview Kostas Vaxevanis himself, but also Dimitris Trimis, chairman of the Athens Daily Newspaper Editors’ Union, Marios Lolos, chairman of the Greek Photojournalists’ Union, and his colleague Tatiana Bolari, and Angélique Kourounis, a correspondent for various French-speaking media in Athens, who also acts as the local representative of Reporters Without Borders. This show is part of a series prepared by the radiobubblenews team, which will carry on across the coming week and will seek to discuss the various impediments to the realization of this essential democratic liberty.
You can listen to the podcast, as usual, after the jump.
The Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) issued today a press release ahead of a trial tomorrow involving three of its officials as well as three officials from the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (CBJCG), who are accused of false accusations, witness perjury and libel by Kostas Plevris. Plevris is widely considered as the theoretician of neo-Nazism in Greece and was sued by the GHM and the CBJCG for his book Jews: The Whole Truth. A first tribunal had found him guilty of antisemitism in 2007, but the sentence was overturned on appeal in 2009 in a decision that was ratified by the Supreme Court in 2010. The Supreme Court decision was deemed scandalous by many, given the contents of the book, which includes for instance chapters titled “The religion of the Jews: crime and misanthropy” or “The Holocaust: evidence of a lie” (you can listen to last Saturday’s #rbnews international show on laws against racism in Greece for context on this matter).
The photo exhibition #MAT1236 about the brutality of the Greek police opened on 02 May 2013 in Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Greek activist Anna Gartagani sent to us videos from the inauguration and the panel discussion that took place after the opening. You can watch them after the jump.