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NUJ condemns arrest of Greek journalist Kostas Vaxevanis

30 October 2012

The NUJ has condemned the arrest of Kostas Vaxevanis, the journalist charged with a breach of privacy after publishing a list of more than 2,000 Greeks, including politicians and business executives, who hold accounts with the HSBC bank in Switzerland.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"It is outrageous that the person who has unmasked wrong-doing has been arrested and charged. This is a blatant attack on the freedom of the press. He was, as he has said, doing 'nothing more than a journalist is obliged to do'."

Kostas Vaxevanis is the editor of Hot Doc magazine and one of the country's most  prominent  investigative journalists. He said the list he published is the same one that was given by the then French finance minister Christine Lagarde to her Greek counterpart.

The NUJ will be working with its partner organisations the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) to register its condemnation of the arrest

Dimitris Trimis, the President of the EFJ/IFJ affiliate JUADN, said:

"I consider absolutely hypocritical the court's fastidious inquiry against investigative journalism, in particular when evidence is brought to public attention concerning matters investigated with no success for months by Justice and politicians who blame each other for inefficiency. Press openness and transparency are the very soul of democracy and justice!"

The EFJ pointed out that as Mr Vaxevanis  is brought to court,  one of the large dailies "TA NEA" also published the "Lagarde list", fortunately without any judicial prosecution up to now.

Almost two and a half years ago Ms. Christine Lagarde (French Minister of Finance at that time) gave to her Greek counterpart Minister of Economy Mr. G. Papakonstantinou a CD, with the names of 2059 Greek citizens having large bank accounts in Swiss Bank HSBC.  The Greek press continuously referred to the existence of the list.

Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, currently President of PASOK and a successor of Mr. G. Papakonstantinou in the Ministry of Economy at the time, admitted at a Parliamentary Committee hearing that he had a copy of the list in his office. However the authorities always considered that it could not be used "for reasons of violating privacy law".

See press reports of the story:

Greece arrests journalist over 'Lagarde List' banks leak (BBC, 28 October 2012)
Greek journalists warn over press freedom (The Guardian, 29 October 2012)

Tags: Greece, press freedom, IFJ, EFJ, Lagarde List, solidarity