30 October 2012
EFJ calls Greek Court to drop charges against journalist Kostas Vaxevanis
Kostas Vaxevanis should not face criminal charges for
doing his job, the European Federation of Journalists(EFJ) said today.
After an inquiry by the Prosecutor of the Misdemeanor Court of Athens on Saturday 27 October, the police was seeking Greek investigative journalist Kostas Vaxevanis for publishing on HOT DOC magazine the "Lagarde List" consisting in 2059 names of Greek citizens with deposits in the Swiss HSBC bank. Mr Vaxevanis was briefly detained by the police the following day and he is now facing trial on 1st November for publishing the "Lagarde List" thus "violating privacy law".
"We clearly think that the publication of a list already shown in public in 2010 by Ms Lagarde when she was still French Minister of Finance is only a matter of providing information to the public. Mr Vaxevanis was doing his job of a journalist working for the public good, not only in relation to the list itself but also in relation to the lack of reaction of the authorities to carry out inquiries about potential large-scale tax evasion".
Dimitris Trimis, the President of the EFJ/IFJ affiliate JUADN, said "I consider absolutely hypocritical the Court's fastidious inquiry against investigative journalism, in particular when evidence is brought to public attention concerning matters investigated with no success for months by Justice and politicians who blame each other for inefficiency. Press openness and transparency are the very soul of Democracy and Justice!"
The EFJ also points out that as Mr Vaxevanis is brought to court, today one of the large dailies "TA NEA" also published the "Lagarde list", fortunately without any judicial prosecution up to now.
Almost two and a half years ago Ms. Christine Lagarde (French Minister of Finance at that time) gave to her Greek counterpart Minister of Economy Mr. G. Papakonstantinou a CD, with the names of 2059 Greek citizens having large bank accounts in Swiss Bank HSBC. The Greek press continuously referred to the existence of the list. Mr. Evangelos Venizelos currently President of PASOK and a successor of Mr. G. Papakonstantinou in the Ministry of Economy at the time, admitted at a Parliamentary Committee hearing that he had a copy of the list in his office. However the authorities always considered that it could not be used "for reasons of violating privacy law".
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The EFJ is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
The EFJ represents over 300,000 journalists in 30 countries