IFJ Backs Greek Journalists Over “Politically-Motivated” Information Ban

The International Federation of Journalists today expressed its full support to the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers and to all Greek journalists in their opposition to “inappropriate and unacceptable” restrictions set up by the Ministry of Defence.

“It is unacceptable for the Greek authorities to exclude journalists from access to information that is in the public interest,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “While we understand that national security is an important consideration, the wide-ranging and vague discretionary criteria being proposed are highly damaging to journalists’ work and are inappropriate in a democratic state.”

In December 2004, the Greek Minister of Defence, Spilios Spiliotopoulos failed to reach a voluntary agreement with the Athens journalists and decided unilaterally to limit journalists’ rights to visit Ministry buildings and officials unless they receive special permission from the Ministry and are escorted by military police.

In protest, journalists of the JUADN refused to publish pictures of Ministry officials and representatives and also refused to include their names in reports.

“Journalists are rightly angry at what they see as a politically-motivated ban which is completely unacceptable,” said White. “We support the demands of Greek journalists for more transparency and we call on the authorities to end all forms of political manipulation”.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries