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
"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