GREECE: SEEMO Strongly Condemns Attacks on Journalists in Greece

GREECE, 11/04/2012

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly condemns the latest attacks on journalists in Greece.

On 5 April 2012, Mario Lolos, the president of the Greek Photojournalists’ Union, was covering an anti-government rally on Syntagma Square, downtown Athens, when a policeman allegedly hit him several times with a baton. Lolos suffered serious head injuries and underwent surgery for a cranial fracture at Hygeia hospital.

According to the statements issued by the Greek Photojournalists' Union, Lolos and other journalists have been “targeted” by riot police.

Star TV reporter Panagiotis Bousios and journalist Makis Synodinos from Naftemporiki newspaper were also injured. A riot policeman allegedly hit the Antenna TV journalist Rena Maniou and threw her to the ground on the sidewalk, where she hit her head. Maniou was taken to the emergency ward of a nearby hospital. Journalists from public broadcaster NET, and newspaper reporter Dionysis Vythoulkas (To Vima), were also allegedly pushed to the ground by riot police.

Although the chief of the Greek police said that an investigation would be conducted into allegations of excessive use of force by riot officers, SEEMO expresses concern at repeated attacks on journalists allegedly committed by police forces.

Journalists were also targeted during previous anti-government protests. In October 2011, as SEEMO reported, Tatiana Bolari, a photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, was beaten by a riot officer while covering a large anti-austerity rally. In June 2011, journalist Manolis Kypraios permanently lost his hearing when a policeman reportedly threw a stun grenade at him during a riot in Syntagma.

“I call on the Greek police authorities to investigate all incidents and on the Greek political authorities to issue a clear statement regarding the continued physical attacks on journalists,” said SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic. “It appears as though media representatives are being punished for covering anti-austerity protests.”

He added: “I am equally concerned at people expressing anger at journalists.”

On April 6, 2012, angry protesters entered the Epirus TV 1  studio and threw eggs and yoghurt at reporter Panagiotis Bourchas, who was interviewing a political leader. The reporter was attacked on live TV for more than a minute, as video recording appears to show.

“Reporters are not responsible for economic problems or for the views of their studio guests, and should be adequately protected,” Vujovic said.

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