x

Society

Greek Journalist Given 5-Month Suspended Sentence for Insulting Samaras

February 3, 2020

ATHENS – Noted Greek investigative journalist Kostas Vaxevanis, who had been acquitted in 2012 for leaking the names of wealthy Greeks hiding their money in secret foreign bank accounts, was given a five-month suspended sentence after being convicted of mocking former premier Antonis Samaras in a tweet.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) immediately called for the conviction to be overturned on appeal and for the ruling New Democracy – which Samaras had led – to reform criminal defamation laws.

If Vaxevanis commits a similar offense over the next three years the suspended sentence will be revoked and he will be jailed, Greece joining the growing list of countries going after journalists and the media, said a report on Documento.

Vaxevanis told CPJ via email that he filed an appeal in the case, but said a date has not been set for a hearing. He had been detained by police in 2017 after the wife of Bank of Greece Gov. Yannis Stournaras, sued him for libel over his reporting five years earlier over the secret bank accounts, for which he was acquitted.

He was arrested immediately afterwards in response to Samaras’ complaint, which he said was in retaliation for his coverage of the former Premier and associates.

“Politicians should expect and endure criticism, and should not pursue criminal charges against journalists,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said in the New York office.

“Authorities should overturn journalist Kostas Vaxevanis’s conviction on appeal. Greece’s criminal defamation laws are out of place in a liberal democracy and should be scrapped,” she added.

The image that Vaxevanis tweeted on Feb. 25, 2018, which is still public on his account, is a meme depicting Samaras threatening that “anyone who opens their little mouth will share the same fate as Mavrikos.”

That was in reference to Panagiotis Mavrikos, a newspaper publisher, who died in 2016 in a car accident. In the indictment, Samaras called the image “extremely slanderous, defamatory and offensive.” CPJ emailed Samaras’s lawyer for comment, but did not receive any reply.

According to the report by Documento, the court rejected the defense’s argument that the meme was not defamatory because it was satire.

Vaxevanis’s account has more than 400,000 followers, and he frequently posts political commentary and links to his journalism and reports.

RELATED

ATHENS - Potentially dangerous conditions for the start of wildfires are expected to prevail in eastern Greece over the weekend, including in the Attica region and the Aegean, according to the latest forecast of the Athens National Observatory meteo service(meteo.

Top Stories

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

General News

PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.

Video

Woman Fatally Shot while Pushing Stroller on Upper East Side

NEW YORK — A 20-year-old woman was fatally shot Wednesday night while she pushed her infant daughter in a stroller on the Upper East Side, police said.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.