Journalists in Greece Are Becoming Targets

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The Greek police on Saturday were looking for the people responsible for detonating makeshift bombs at the homes of five journalists in Athens, the latest in a series of actions taken against reporters in Greece that have raised questions about a deteriorating climate for media freedom.

An anarchist group calling itself "Lovers of Lawlessness" claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks, citing coverage of the financial crisis that the group denounced as sympathetic to the austerity programs being imposed by the Greek government and its foreign lenders.

The news media are the "main managers of the oppressing state designs, manipulating society accordingly," the group said in a statement posted to the Internet.

Reporters Without Borders condemned the bombings, in which explosives tied to gas canisters caused minor damage at the homes of the editor of the Athens News Agency, Antonis Skylakos, and two broadcasters from private television stations, Giorgos Oikonomeas and Antonis Liaros. Petros Karsiotis, a crime reporter, and Christos Konstas, a former journalist who is now a spokesman for the government agency in charge of privatizing Greek assets, were also targeted. No injuries were reported.

"These attacks are the most visible expression of an increasingly dangerous climate for all journalists, who are being turned into the scapegoats of a crisis they are just analyzing," Reporters Without Borders said.

Activism by far-left groups appears to be on the rise after a series of attacks and threats against journalists last year by the far-right neo-facist Golden Dawn group.

On Thursday, about 50 men entered the private radio station Real FM and demanded that a recording be played expressing solidarity with hundreds of squatters evicted earlier from the Villa Amalia, a gathering point in central Athens for far-left groups and students. A group of men also made the same demand at a public radio station in Salonika.

"Yesterday they raided radio stations; today we have explosions at journalists' homes," said Simos Kedikoglou, the coalition government's spokesman. "There is an open effort to terrorize the media, a vital part of our democracy."

Greek police have also increased their activity. Dimitris Trimis, the head of Greece's Journalist's Union, said the police on Saturday blocked journalists in Athens for several hours from covering the trial of people arrested at Villa Amalia. A police spokesman denied journalists were kept out.

In November about 15 officers surrounded the home of a Greek magazine editor and arrested him hours after he published a list of more than 2,000 Greeks who were said to have accounts at a bank in Switzerland. Kostas Vaxevanis, the editor of HotDoc, was put on trial for privacy violation and quickly cleared by a judge, but faces a retrial after the prosecutor appealed the verdict.

Dimitris Bounias contributed reporting.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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