October 3, 2005


Vienna, 03/10/2005


Jorgos Voulgarakis
Minister of Public Order

Jorgos Orfanos
Deputy Minister of Culture (Responsible for Sports)

Athens, Greece

Your Excellencies,

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 yet another sports journalist in Greece.

According to information before SEEMO, on late Friday evening, 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. The unknown person hit him several times in the head and face, leaving him with concussion, a fractured jawbone and other minor injuries. The journalist was subsequently rushed to hospital. According to the police there were no eyewitnesses to the attack.

We would like to remind your Excellencies that this is the third attack on a sports journalist in Greece in the past year. In October 2004, sports journalist and head of the Sports Department of the Eleftherotypia daily newspaper, Philippos Syrigos, was attacked in the car park near the Super Sport FM radio station when walking to his car after a radio show. His attackers were two unidentified individuals wearing helmets, who hit him on the head with a metal bar and stabbed him several times in the back. The two perpetrators managed to escape. On 7 May 2005, 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 wife and two young daughters, only metres away from his home in Ilion, Athens. During the attack, Nikolakopoulos was repeatedly hit on the head and about the body with knuckledusters and iron bars. Once Nikolakopoulos had fallen to the ground, the men disappeared. Nikolakopoulos was later taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

SEEMO regards these attacks as a very serious violation of press freedom and the rights of journalists. We ask Your Excellencies to start an investigation into this case and to take all necessary legal steps. We would like to remind Your Excellencies that a safe working environment for journalists is a fundamental principle in every democratic society.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic

SEEMO Secretary General