ATHENS – A vague accusation by the major opposition SYRIZA that the ruling New Democracy is trying to muzzle media critical of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was rejected out of hand by government spokesman Stelios Petsas.
In a statement – Greek political leaders rarely talk to reporters in order to avoid questions – Petsas said, “The government does not interfere in the media or in the work of journalists. It fully respects their independence,”reported Kathimerini.
SYRIZA had cited a number of prominent journalists and columnists at major Greek papers that it said were censored and not allowed to be critical of the government although independent sites such as Documento have blistered Mitsotakis.
“When required, the government responds to their publications and of course does not deal with internal issues of any media,” said Petsas,, adding that it was SYRIZA which tried to control the media while in power for 4 ½ years.
He said SYRIZA and the leftists leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras used “illegal methods” to try to force media companies to fire journalists who wouldn’t back that government's agenda.
SYRIZA also moved to try to control private TV licenses which the then-government said were favoring its rivals, the parties continuing to snipe at each other even through the COVID-19 pandemic.