‘Serious threat to journalists!’ EU blasted for suppressing Greece press freedom report

Greece should not have joined the Eurozone says Portillo

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Reporters Without Borders compiled a report which stated that Greek police had “regularly resort[ed] to violence” to stop journalists covering the refugee crisis and anti-lockdown demonstrations. Greece crashed from 70th place to 108th in its latest press freedom league table as a result, lower than any other EU country, with even Albania ranking higher.

The European Parliament has voiced support for media freedom, as well as Reporters Without Borders.

However, despite this, they deleted the report from their website, claiming it was “not in line” with the editorial guidelines.

Jaume Duch Guillot, a spokesman for the European Parliament, claimed it was because the report made no mention of “the parliament’s activities and agenda”.

The report faced a negative reaction from supporters of the right-wing Greek government.

According to the Telegraph, a lawmaker from the ruling New Democracy party slammed Reporters Without Border as a “leftist NGO” and “losers from abroad”.

Some have also suggested that the decision to delete the report came from the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola.

Ms Metsola, like New Democracy, is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest grouping in the European Parliament.

Sarantis Michalopouloss, a columnist for the Brussels-based website Euractiv, accused the EU of “lies”. 

He said: “Metsola’s effort to protect the last strong EPP government in Europe can be partly understood.

“What cannot be understood and tolerated is the lies of an EU institution which gets paid by EU taxpayers’ money, who are suffering from soaring prices across the bloc.”

According to the report, changes to the Greek criminal code “passed under the pretext of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic” have harmed press freedom.

Under the changes, the spreading of “false information” can lead to a five-year jail sentence. 

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Reporters Without Borders said it “represents a serious threat to journalists” right to publish information and increases the risk of self-censorship.

According to the report, the police “regularly resort to violence and arbitrary bans to hamper journalistic coverage of demonstrations and the refugee crisis on the islands”.

One Dutch journalist had to flee for her life “after she was attacked in the street following a smear campaign by the pro-government media over her heated exchange with the prime minister about migrant pushback”.

The Greek government was also blasted after promising a probe which has yet to start into the murder of Giorgos Karaivaz.

Mr Karaivaz, a veteran crime reporter, was gunned down outside his home in broad daylight.

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