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Greek Media Freedom Hit by Surveillance, Lawsuits and Threats: Report

The initial findings of a report published on Wednesday by eight international media freedom organisations said that press freedom in Greece is under “sustained threat” from the impact of the ‘Predatorgate’ spyware surveillance scandal, abusive lawsuits and physical threats against journalists, as well as economic and political pressures on media.

“While Greece has a small but highly professional group of independent and investigative media doing quality public interest reporting, these outlets remain isolated on the fringes of the media landscape and lack systemic support,” said the International Press Institute’s advocacy officer, Jamie Wiseman, at the launch of the report at the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers.

The report noted how journalists and politicians, among them the leader of the opposition party PASOK were placed under surveillance by the Greek secret services using an illegal spyware called Predator.

It also noted how the 2021 murder of the veteran crime journalist Giorgos Karaivaz remains unresolved.

It said that abusive lawsuits – so-called SLAPPs, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – and physical attacks against journalists, have been weaponised to silence critical voices by exhausting them financially and psychologically.

“Especially for smaller outlets and freelance journalists, SLAPPs pose an existential threat as often the compensation demanded greatly exceeds their resources, which further exacerbates their intended chilling effect beyond the targeted journalist,” said the report.

The report was produced after a visit to Greece by a delegation composed of the six members of the Media Freedom Rapid Response: ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, the European Federation of Journalists, Free Press Unlimited, the International Press Institute and the Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa. They were joined by representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

The eight organisations called on the Greek government and prime minister “to show political courage and urgently take specific measures aimed at improving the climate for independent journalism and salvaging press freedom”.

A more detailed report with expanded recommendations will be published in the coming weeks, they said.

Source : Balkan Insight