Reporters Without Borders

Journalists caught between radical groups and police violence

Journalists caught between radical groups and police violence

Published on Tuesday 21 December 2010.
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Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the appearance of posters near the parliament building in central Athens last weekend listing journalists accused of being “thugs” and “rogues” for their perceived support for the government in the current crisis. Leaflets with the names and photos of some of the journalists were also scattered in the same area.

© Reporters sans frontières

“In an already tense and dangerous climate for all journalists, this poster and leaflet campaign is just heightening the tension,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Media coverage of the unrest in Greece in recent months may be legitimately criticized and some journalists and media may have broken some of the rules of professional conduct, but last weekend’s ‘response’ by radical groups is unacceptable and cannot go unpunished.

“We urge the authorities to investigate and identify those responsible for this campaign, which is clearly not protected by the right to free speech. We also deplore the tendency to associate journalists with the current government’s political decisions. The photos taken during the demonstrations and the articles analyzing them may have been embarrassing for some and may reflect only part of the reality, but their publication clearly served a public interest.

© Reporters sans frontières

“Under the pretext of condemning the media’s alleged subjugation to the government and its propaganda, these radical groups are just trying to impose their own forms of censorship and propaganda. Defending media independence by encouraging physical violence against those who work for the media is completely unacceptable. We point out that all political tendencies in Greece gave the right to create and edit their own media.”

Reporters Without Borders is also disturbed by the increase in cases of police violence against journalists and reiterates its appeal to the interior minister to issue clear instructions to the police to stop targeting journalists covering demonstrations.

“Blows, insults, cameras destroyed or confiscated, photos deleted, memory cards damaged, arrests and gratuitous bureaucratic harassment are now all part of the daily fare for reporters and photographers,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We remind all the authorities concerned that most of the journalists covering demonstrations are clearly identified as working for the press and cannot be confused with the demonstrators.

“Journalists have clearly been the target of some particularly heavy-handed police interventions, especially when they have been taking photos of excessive use of force by the police. We also point out that press photographers are not police auxiliaries and are not required to hand over copies of their photos, or still less, the originals to the police. Use of press photos for purposes other than information cannot be imposed on the media.”

Journalists who are the victims of violence are urged to notify Reporters Without Borders, which will continue to follow developments closely.

Greece was ranked 70th out of 178 countries in the 2010 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

© Reporters sans frontières

© Reporters sans frontières

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