IFJ Says Greek Attempt to Arrest Union Leaders “An Outrageous Flashback to An Age of Dictatorship”

The International Federation of Journalists today described efforts to carry out a mass arrest of Greek journalists’ union leaders as an “outrageous flashback to an age of dictatorship and tyranny.”

“The sight of security officers scuttling around trying to put union leaders behind bars because they organised a strike is a shameful sight in a modern democracy,” said Aidan White.

The IFJ, and its regional organisation the European Federation of Journalists, says that Greek security and legal officers have been drawn into a humiliating escapade by the action of newspaper publisher G Kouris who filed charges against the Executive Board of the Journalists Union of Athens Daily Newspaper because of an all-out strike involving journalists and press workers at two newspapers – Avriani and Filathlos – owned by the Kouris Media Group.

Arrest warrants were issued for the detention of the members of the boards of all the unions involved in the strikes. The warrants were issued after statements from Minister of the Press Christos Protopapas and by the Union of Daily Newspaper Owners against the strike.

“It appears that the Government and Greek publishers have joined together to try to break the unions from exercising their right to strike, while defending a publisher who is guilty of repeated violations of labour law and existing agreements,” said White.

The IFJ and EFJ are sending letters of protests to the Greek authorities and European representatives. In May the IFJ plans to hold its 25th Congress in Athens. “During this Olympic year this should be a celebration of journalism and free spirit,” said White. “Instead, we are seeing a dangerous and repressive development that casts a shadow over press freedom and democracy.”

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries