Journalist Arrested after Lawsuit by Greek MP over Libel

The EFJ has today denounced the Greek authorities over the public arrest of journalist Despina Kontaraki over libel claims following the lawsuit filed by the member of the Independent Greeks party (ANEL), Ms Rachil Makri. Eleftheros Typos journalist Despina Kontaraki was arrested on Sunday, 6 April at the premises of the newspaper in Athens. Kontaraki, together with journalist Giorgos Kouvaras and the publisher of the newspaper, Alexis Skanavis, were accused of libel over an article published in Eleftheros Typos in which Makri was accused of supporting the members of the far right political group, the Golden Dawn.  According to media reports, Kontaraki was released later in the evening after she has provided a statement to the police. The lawsuit against her and two other journalists are currently pending in the court. The EFJ affiliates in Greece (ESIEA, ESIEMTH, POESY, PEPU) have criticised the arrest as ‘‘an unprecedented tactic to silence and intimidate journalists’’.
‘‘The arrest is utterly unacceptable and baseless,’’ denounced EFJ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. ‘‘It has only shown the worrying fact that Greek politicians are blatantly abusing their power and privilege to silence critical voices in their own advantages.’’
The EFJ has urged MP Rachil Makri to respect the national law and European standards on freedom of expression by dropping immediately the baseless accusation against journalist Kontaraki and her two colleagues.