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Exclusive: In Greece it is no longer wise to tell the truth

Journalist sought by police

Translated Monday 29 October 2012, by Kristina Wischenkamper and reviewed by Bill Scoble

The latest twist in the story of "the Lagarde list". And new threats to freedom of information in Greece. L’Humanité has learned that journalist Kostas Vaxevanis is wanted by the police. A press release confirms that, on order of the Attorney of Athens, "Greek police are undertaking searches to find and arrest the editor of the magazine Hot Doc which published the Lagarde list".

What exactly is in the Lagarde list? The names of some 2,000 wealthy Greeks who have bank accounts in Switzerland, with HSBC bank, and who thus evade paying taxes in their own country. The list was given to former ministers of PASOK (Evangelos Venizelos at the Ministry of Defence and Giorgos Papaconstantinou at the Ministry of Finance) by Christine Lagarde when she was still Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry in France. But this list was obviously meant to disappear. One of the ministers, G. Papanconstantinou, claimed he did not remember to whom he had given the official CD containing the names; the other maintained he had lost the USB key holding the precious information. Since then, France has been ready to supply the list should the Greek government ask for it. But this hasn’t happened.

While Greece sinks into a crisis without precedent, the investigative magazine Hot Doc has released the names without indicating the accounts or amounts in question. On the list are entrepreneurs who, before the crisis, received grants from the Greek State so as not to close their factories - such as the Lamaras family, textile magnates, ship-owners, journalists and three politicians. As soon as the list was published, the police began to search ... for the man who published it. "The police are looking for him. He is accused of having disclosed private information", Miguel Samotrakis, one of the Hot Doc journalists explained in a phone interview "The police even came into the office" he added.

Kostas Vaxenakis, who was quickly contacted by Humanity, said he was "very concerned".

In effect, it is not wise to expose corruption especially whilst those implicated, for example, in the Siemens case (as Michael Christoforakos) are sleeping soundly.

In a country where social protests are growing, amongst a population hit by 25.3% unemployment, which massively rejects austerity, but which is being made increasingly poorer, it is now the turn of the journalists to be stopped from doing their jobs. In Greece they are calling Kostas Vaxevanis the "Greek Julian Assange." Julian Assange is being pursued for having published confidential documents (diplomatic cables).

This episode recalls the darker hours of a country that until 1974 was under military dictatorship.

• Breaking news. The arrest of the journalist Kostas Vaxevanis has been confirmed.


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