Greece: Journalists covering protest attacked by Athens riot police

Officers of the primary riot police unit of the Hellenic Police (MAT) physically attacked and teargassed several journalists and covering a protest in central Athens on 28 July, during the demonstration in solidarity with jailed anarchist Yiannis Michailidis. The International and the European Federation of Journalists (IFJ - EFJ) condemn the police brutality against several journalists and call on the Greek judicial authorities to prosecute the perpetrators of such violence.

Credit: screenshot of video footage published by Yannis Kemmos.

Among the victims identified were journalists Eleftheria Komandou (Golden Dawn Watch), Lefteris Partsalis and Manos Fragioudakis (News 24/7).

The Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers (JUADN), an IFJ affiliate, denounced in a statement the attack against Komandou, calling it a provocation.

Video footage taken from the protest showed Partsalis being hit with shields and teargassed by police on two separate occasions. Other videos showed other reporters and photojournalists being pushed and teargassed by police.

An investigation into the actions of the police was launched by the Hellenic Police Headquarters on July 29. Police officers involved in the disciplinary offences against media professionals and protesters were removed from their duties until the investigation is completed.

IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger said: "These attacks and threats against press freedom should not be tolerated and justice should be served. The IFJ stands on its affiliates' side to denounce any drift harming journalists".

“Together with our Greek colleagues, we strongly condemn this police violence, which violates the right of Greek citizens to access information,” said the EFJ President Maja Sever.

“The watch-dog role of journalists is of crucial importance during protests and demonstrations. Their presence is a guarantee that the authorities can be held to account for their conduct, including the methods used to control or disperse protesters. Any attempt to remove journalists from the scene of demonstrations must therefore be subject to strict scrutiny. We consider the behaviour of the Athens riot police to be an act of censorship”, said EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez.

The IFJ and EFJ call for the conviction of the police officers involved and for the Greek authorities to implement the EU Recommendation on the protection of journalists without delay.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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