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Greek criminal case against German journalists sparks concern

(IPI/IFEX) - 16 November 2011 - The Greek authorities are continuing to pursue criminal charges against German journalists over material that appeared in Germany's FOCUS magazine, and on its website, FOCUS online.

The journalists had criticised Greece over the debt crisis in two articles and a travel feature.

A number of Greek lawyers subsequently claimed that as Greek citizens they had been defamed, and initiated a criminal complaint against the publisher of FOCUS along with several journalists. The lawyers wish to see the defendants criminally convicted on charges of violating Greek laws. A further court date in an Athens criminal court has been set for the end of November.

The IPI German National Committee, a subsidiary of the IPI General Secretariat in Vienna, which counts among its members publishers, leading journalists and renowned media professionals, is shocked that in Greece journalists are being criminally prosecuted because of their work.

Carl-Eugen Eberle, Chairman of the Executive Board of IPI, and Chair of the IPI German National Committee, said: "It is unacceptable that in Greece, the cradle of democracy in Europe, journalists are the subject of a criminal court case because of their job. Just like solidarity among member states, press freedom is a fundamental cornerstone of the European community."

Eberle added: "Especially in times of crisis, critical reporting is of the utmost significance. That's why it is intolerable that journalists be intimidated through criminal charges. We demand that the case be closed immediately."

IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said: "How can IPI promote the cause of press freedom around the world when here in the heart of Europe governments allow the criminal prosecution of journalists because of their work?"

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