Letter on the renewed attempts to imprison Greekjournalist Kostas Vaxevanis
To:Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European CouncilJosé Manuel Barroso, President of the European CommissionNeelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister of the Hellenic RepublicIFEX signatories are deeply concerned and appalled at the renewedattempts to prosecute Greek editor Kostas Vaxevanis and the wider
chilling effects of this effort to silence a journalist acting in the publicinterest, and one who has already been found to have committed nooffence.The European Union has in the past rightly been quick to denouncethreats to media freedom in neighbourhood countries and candidate
states that seek membership. So the Union’s failure to speak out on the
attempts to silence Vaxevanis is worrying.
Vaxevanis was arrested last month and then acquitted of breaking dataprivacy laws on 1 November by publishing a leaked list (nicknamed the
”) of over 2,000 names of Greeks allegedly holdin
accounts in Switzerland. He now faces a re-trial at the behest of Greekprosecutors. Under the Lisbon Treaty, compliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is legally binding on EU member states. While theCharter protects the rights to privacy and protection of personal data,those rights must be reconciled with the
right “to receive and impart
information and ideas without interference by public authority and
regardless of frontiers,” and the obligation that “the freedom andpluralism of the media shall be respected”, particularly in cases such as
this where dissemin
ation of the information at issue is within the public’s
general interest. EU member states and the EU are also signed up tothe European Convention on Human Rights, which protects humanrights and fundamental freedoms.