European Federation of Journalists chief slams press freedom in Greece – EURACTIV.com
Lack of trust, economic instability and spying on journalists make the press environment in Greece worrying and difficult, European Federation of Journalists President Maja Sever told EURACTIV in an exclusive interview.
EURACTIV.gr spoke to Sever after the Samothrace conference organized by the Athens Journalists’ Union of Athens daily newspapers. Participants, including Greek and foreign journalists, discussed threats to press freedom in Europe and Greece.
“During the conference, we witnessed attacks by government officials against journalists due to Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) findings, as well as mistrust of the relevance of MFRR report.
“But the facts remain clear, such as the murder of crime journalist Giorgos Karaivaz drawing international attention to important issues regarding the safety of journalists. The media have repeatedly warned that the progress of the investigation is slow and lacks essential transparency, which has a chilling effect,” said Sever, a well-respected Croatian journalist.
Karaivaz, an investigative journalist and prominent crime reporter, was shot dead by two gunmen outside his home in Athens on April 9, 2021. At the time, Karaivaz was investigating the mafia war raging in Athens. To date, there has been no justice to bring the killers or the masterminds to justice.
“Journalists also face problems in reporting on migration policy and human rights abuses of emigrants. It has become increasingly difficult for journalists to report as they face obstacles including detention, restricted access to migration hotspots, surveillance and harassment,” Sever said. .
“Journalists are attacked and harassed by police and protesters without the political will to ensure their safety when reporting on protests,” Sever added.
On the panel of the Samothrace conference, the Greek government was represented by Deputy Minister of Migration, Sofia Voultepsi. “Namely, the arguments and explanations of government officials were attacks and accusations from journalists. The data speaks for itself,” Sever emphasized.
Regarding the use of spyware in Greece, Sever said that “the current events of espionage and Pegasus are indeed incredible.”
“Ultimately, after the scandal broke and the discovery of spying on journalists, the government announced that it would change the legal framework and fix the surveillance system,” Severa also said.
“It’s really difficult for journalists to work in such a difficult atmosphere, while at the same time the general situation for journalism and the media is getting more and more difficult,” she said, noting the ” deep mistrust” of journalists in the country. .
However, spyware and SLAPPs are not the only problems facing Greek journalists.
“I was particularly struck when they explained their economic situation. It is so serious that they are forced to have several jobs. Many of them have lost their jobs and find it difficult to find time to fight for freedom of journalism,” Sever said.
“These are all hardworking and talented journalists who, in addition to fighting for survival, face obvious hostility from politicians, possible spies and attacks,” Sever said, adding that “many of them bear the brunt of SLAPP lawsuits.
The report concluded that there had been a deterioration in media freedom since the election victory of Neo Dimokratia in 2019, which is “obsessed with controlling the message” and downplaying critical and dissenting voices.
In 2021, Greece was ranked 108th for media freedom according to Reporters Without Borders’ ranking, according to which Greece fell 38 places, making it the worst performance ever in the EU.
“I’m afraid the situation won’t improve,” Sever told EURACTIV.gr.
The European Commission, in its Rule of Law Report for 2022, reiterated its significant concerns and recommended that Greece “put in place legislative measures and other protective measures to improve physical security and the working environment journalists”.
“These are the facts. I had many contacts and discussions with journalists during the conference in Samothrace; I concluded that the situation was quite troubling and difficult. I promised that the EFJ would help and provide all support to Greek colleagues,” Sever added.
(Sofia Mandilara | EURACTIV.gr)