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Gunmen open fire on private television station TV Alter

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a press release by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate:

SEEMO Deeply Concerned over Gunfire Attack on TV Station in Athens

Vienna, 18 February 2009

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned over the attack on private television station TV Alter in Athens, Greece, on Tuesday, 17 February.

According to information before SEEMO, around 7:15 p.m., four armed men fired shots and threw a suspected explosive device outside the premises of TV Alter's central offices in Athens. Luckily, no injuries were reported. The attack happened before the station's main evening news bulletin was broadcast, when the building was full of employees. Before the gunmen opened fire, they ran into an Alter TV technician and ordered him to leave the scene.

It is believed that the gunmen are members of the recently-established group, "Sekta Epanastaton" (Revolutionary Sekta - sekta is the Arabic word for team, or group). One week prior to the attack, a letter sent to the daily newspaper Ta Nea threatened to kill well-known journalists working for the country's largest TV stations (TV Alter is among them). Police have yet to release an official statement about the identity of those believed to be behind the shooting.

Commenting on the incident, Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General, said, "Such attacks are a serious threat to press freedom and the working environment of reporters in Greece and the entire South East European region.

SEEMO urges an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident. The media play an important role in a democratic society and attacks such as these constitute a threat not only against the news media, but against democracy itself."

The International Press Institute is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

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