The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is alarmed about the recent assault on two journalists in Greece.
According to information before SEEMO, on Tuesday, 13 December, the reporter of Mega Channel TV, Christos Michalopoulos, and his cameraman, Alfonso Ponse, were attacked by unknown men wearing masks and helmets, while covering a demonstration in downtown Athens. The demonstration was organised by trade unions in protest of a new law introducing significant changes to working practices in the public sector. Two journalists were sent to cover the demonstration after some 30 masked men burnt down a police car. Later, the two were also attacked and beaten around the head and upper body by the same men. They were both taken to a hospital, where their injuries were treated. None of the perpetrators could be identified.
Speaking about this attack, Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said, "It is important that during a demonstration all sides respect the right of journalists to report on important news events."
Vujovic also referred to previous attacks on journalists in Greece, "In October 2004 sports journalist Philippos Syrigos was attacked in the car park near Super Sport FM radio station, while walking to his car after a radio show. On 7 May, Kostas Nikolakopoulos, a journalist for the sports daily Fos ton Sport and the radio station Super Sport FM, was attacked by four unknown men in front of his home in Athens. On 30 September 2005, Periklis Stellas, sports journalist and director of the Thessaloniki branch of the sports daily newspaper, Goal News, was attacked by an unknown person as he was leaving his office in the centre of Thessaloniki. In [these] cases, the perpetrators have not been identified yet."
With the above in mind, SEEMO calls upon the authorities in Greece to find and bring to justice those responsible for these attacks. SEEMO would also like to remind the Greek authorities that freedom of expression and a safe working environment for journalists are the basic principles of any democratic society.