IFJ and EFJ Call for Media Protection after Series of Serious Safety Incidents in Greece

Today the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) called for strong action from Greek authorities to protect media after a series of violent attacks against journalists and media organisations which took place in recent days.

"It is important that in time of crisis everybody respects press freedom. This concerns the authorities but also citizens who, for whatever reason, may feel resentment towards the establishment," said EFJ President Arne König.

Early morning on Friday 11 January 2013,  the homes of five journalists and members of the EFJ/IFJ affiliate, the Journalists' Union of Athens Daily Newspapers (JUADN), were subjected to arson attacks by anarchist groups.

According to press reports, these and other acts of violence targeting journalists and news media during the same week were claimed to be a protest against the media coverage of the economic crisis in the country which these groups considered skewed in favour of the government.

In the meantime, on Saturday 12 January, journalists covering the court appearances of people arrested on suspicion of membership of the "Villa Amalia", one of the radical groups in Athens, were prevented from entering the courts by the police.

JUADN President, Dimitris Trimis, declared in a statement that "the policy of creating tension seems practiced systematically by government officials and it is currently in progress. The authorities are exploiting reckless attacks on freedom of expression to distract the public opinion from the core values of democracy."

The other EFJ/IFJ affiliate, the Macedonia and Thrace Daily Newspapers' Union (ESIEMTH) also strongly condemned the attempt to terrorise the media and called on the government and all of political parties to" unite in combating these phenomena and in safeguarding the democratic right to freedom of expression."   

"The authorities should oppose the spread of violence, discrimination and poverty in the country and take action to stop all sorts of provocation. But it is also the role of democratic institutions to react vigorously to protect press freedom," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "For this reason, we  condemn the ban on journalists to enter the court."

The EFJ and IFJ have expressed their solidarity with the colleagues whose homes were attacked and asked for a full investigation to bring to justice those who committed these attacks.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 134 countries