The publisher and Editor-in-Chief of a Greek newspaper were taken into custody and jailed after Defense Minister Panos Kammenos complained about a piece saying businessmen connected to him received European Union funding aimed at helping refugees in detention centers. The journalists were finally released on Sunday morning after being sent to the prosecutor.
Kammenos’ ministry is in charge of handling the money from the EU. He is leader of the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greek (ANEL) who are junior partners in the coalition headed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Radical Left SYRIZA who has complained the EU isn’t doing enough to help with the crisis that’s seen more than 64,000 refugees and migrants being held in camps and centers.
That includes some 15,000 on Greek islands near Turkey, which has allowed human traffickers to operate during a suspended swap deal with the EU. Conditions at the centers have been described as inhumane by activists and human rights groups with no report of where some 1.5 billion euros ($1.77 billion) has gone of if any was diverted.
Panayiotis Lampsias, Editor of the daily Fileleftheros (Liberal) said, “We are at the Exarchia police precinct, where we will spend the night and probably be sent to a prosecutor” on Sept. 23.
Rival parties immediately condemned the detention as there were no reported charges brought and no explanation why a complaint from a minister can lead to journalists being detained and jailed.
The major opposition New Democracy accused Kammenos – who had left the Conservatives in opposition they agreed to while ruling earlier, before backing it to join SYRIZA – of “thuggery,” and said the real issue was the mishandling of)EU funds supposed to help refugees and migrants.
“Whether he wants it or not, (Kammenos] will be held accountable for the national shame that is Moria,” New Democracy said, using the name of a detention center on the island of Lesbos. “The same goes for his ostensibly left-wing sensitive fellow ministers who on a daily basis humiliate human existence and tarnish Greece’s image across the world,” it said.
Fileleftheros’ journalists were released on Sunday morning after being sent to the prosecutor, Sept. 23, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)