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Recent cases of censorship create concern in democratic Greece

I didn’t know there was a legal term called “preventive censorship.” It looks as if there is or there could be. It was applied by a Greek judge to ban the broadcast of an investigative report into the recent migrant boat accident that cost the life of 3 women and 9 children. The judicial intervention on the specific report is just one of several cases of justice interventions in media works, whereas the authors have used public sources to support their stories.

These incidents create concerns – if nothing else – among the media community in Greece.

Journalist detained on suspicion of “publishing military secrets”

On Wednesday, journalist Popi Christodoulidou was taken to Greek Police Headquarters after she published an article on a website.  The prosecutor investigates whether the article contained “sensitive military information”.  The journalist had claimed that “coastguard divers are involved in guarding sensitive sites along with the police, despite the fact that the law does not provide for that.” Popi Christostoulidou had based her claims on a law published in the Official Government Gazette (FEK), which is a public document. Also here and here.

Greek Politician vs Wikipedia

On Thusrday, an Athens court ordered the temporary removal of an entry on Wikipedia. The court followed the request by Theodoros Katsanevas who had appealed against a Greek user of Wikipedia – nickname “Diu”- , demanding  the word “disgrace” to be removed from the entry associated with him and an alleged hand-written will of late Andreas Papandreou,  former Greek Prime Minister and Katsanevas’s father in law.

“Diu” had supported his entry with references to several newspaper sources that had reported in late 1980’s on the issue.

Theodoros Katsanevas, the chairman of a small political party supporting return to Drachma.

TV report on Farmakonisi Migrants Tragedy banned per prosecutor order

A Greek judge on Thursday banned a leading private TV station from airing an investigative report into a deadly migrant boat accident, claiming it could compromise the secrecy of the ongoing official investigation.

The ban prompted an outcry from opposition parties and junior coalition partner PASOK.

“The obstruction of journalists’ work and further attempt to preventive censorship do not suit democratically organized state.

“The report must be broadcast as usually, PASOK said in a statement.

Judge Antigoni Stamoleka warned Mega TV of «severe legal sanctions» if it broadcasts the report — or even continues to screen advertising spots (trailers) for it — before her investigation is concluded.

Mega TV said the order was an unacceptable act of censorship, and insisted it would complete and air the report as planned during next week’s episode of the popular “Protagonistes (Protagonists)” show.

“It would be a sad state of affairs if journalists had to secure judges’ permission to investigate a story,” said reporter Stavros Theodorakis, who presents the program.

Speaking to Mega TV Prime Times News on Thursday, Stavros  Theodorakis claimed that some survivors lthe prosecutor had suggested them not to speak to journalists.”

The ban prompted an outcry from political parties and the Journalists’ Union ESIEA, while Mega TV said that the report will be broadcast on February 18th 2014 as scheduled.

The Farmakonisi tragedy triggered a dispute between the Greek Coast Guard and several migrants associations as well as the UNHRC as some survivors testimonies threw a bad image to the coast guard.

To tell you the truth I don’t know whether the Farmakonisi survivors revealed state secrets to Theodorakis, but certainly I didn’t know neither about the Katsanevas’ ‘disgrace’ nor about the coast guard divers.

But now I do know about these cases as they became known because of these interventions. 

And that is solely due to the famous “Streisand effect“: that is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.

On Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders published its Index on Media Freedom 2014 and placed Greece in a tragic position of place 99th. According to the international organization Greece plunged 50 places within the last five years.


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