International backing for Greek journalist in IMF row

Threats by a senior official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Greece to cut off a newspaper's

access to information after one of its journalists refused to reveal his

sources have been condemned by the European Federation of Journalists today.

The threat was made by Mr. Bob Traa, Senior IMF Resident

Representative in Athens, who was reacting to a story by Greek journalist

Zois Tsolis for the TO VIMA newspaper.

On 24 June 2012, Tsolis published an exclusive report in the weekly

newspaper that included facts and data on an increase in the number of public

servants in some ministries over the last two years, despite contrary

recommendations in the memorandum of understanding agreed with the "Troika" -

the European Union, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

After being asked to attend a meeting with Mr Traa, Zois Tsolis was

bluntly asked to reveal "how he managed to find" the documents used for his

article. Traa then threatened to stop communicating with the newspaper TO VEMA,

claiming that there are other newspapers ‘accurately delivering' data they

provide.

"Such a behavior of a high-ranking international official is

inappropriate and threatening for our profession" said EFJ President Arne

König. "Asking a journalist to reveal the source of accurate information is

clearly an infringement of fundamental press freedom standards".

"As international and European institutions are squeezing Greek social

rights in the name of austerity, we say that the public needs to be informed

about what is happening and that journalists need to be able to work without

pressure and without fear" said the President of the International Federation

of Journalists Jim Boumelha.

Mr. Tsolis is a member of the EFJ/IFJ affiliate, the Journalists' Union

of Athens Daily Newspaper (JUADN), which warned that "such a behavior is also

offensive for all the Greek Press".

The EFJ and the IFJ are calling on representatives of

international organisations in Greece, and in particular Mr Traa, to respect

press freedom and journalists' professional rights.

 

The EFJ is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists
The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in 30 countries

For more information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235.2200