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Appeal to EU Institutions to Defend Free Expression in Greece

Appeal to EU Institutions to Defend Free Expression in Greece

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Published by: IndexOnCensorship on Nov 05, 2012
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An appeal by IFEX members in the EU & ‘neighbourhood’ stateson behalf of Greek freedom of expression
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission
Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
Copy to Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic
As freedom of expression rights organisations
based in the European Union member states,the nations of the European Neighbourhood Policy, Eastern Partnership and MediterraneanUnion and members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), wewelcome the decision of an Athens court to acquit Greek investigative journalist KostasVaxevanis. Mr Vaxevanis had named alleged account holders in an offshore bank that hadbeen protected from tax investigation for two years.Despite the positive outcome, we would still like to express our concern at the decision of theGreek authorities to bring Mr Vaxevanis to court and his treatment in the run up to thathearing. The charge should never have been made, let alone brought to court. We also notethat another Greek journalist, Spiros Karatzaferis, was also arrested this week on an old,unrelated criminal libel charge after claiming he would publish classified documents relatingto Greece’s financial bailout.We urge European Union institutions to make a clear stand in favour of freedom of expression and publication in the public interest in Greece. Under the Lisbon Treaty, thecompliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is legally binding on EU members.This includes the right under Article 11 “to receive and impart information and ideas withoutinterference by public authority and regardless of frontiers,” and the obligation that that “thefreedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected”.As the Commission itself noted in the context of implementing the Charter, “the Union itself must be exemplary in order to: enable people living in the Union to enjoy the rights enshrinedin the charter; build mutual trust between EU countries; build public confidence in EUpolicies; improve credibility of EU external action on human rights.”

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