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Minister sues a journalist for a political commentary

31 March 2015 / 17:03:53  GRReporter
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Minister of Defence Panos Kammenos has initiated legal proceedings against famous Greek journalist and cartoonist Andreas Petroulakis, seeking compensation to the amount of 1 million euro. The leader of Independent Greeks and coalition partner of Alexis Tsipras was annoyed by Petroulakis’ comments entitled "Panos Kammenos. They begin to resemble him", which he published on the site for analysis and commentary

After the action was brought against him, the journalist wrote a new article, stating, "In the text referred to by Mr. Kammenos I express political opinions, use political descriptions of his recent and previous acts and refer to events that we all know and that are indicative of his political career, as every journalist should do with regard to a particular public figure. Indeed, does the minister have no public forum to defend himself? Would anyone seriously accept that his objection would not be heard which is why he would prefer to respond with a lawsuit?

Of course not. He prefers to intimidate and edify others. But Mr. Kammenos is deluding himself. My colleagues and I do not intend to throw away our journalists' cards because we bother him or someone else. Nobody is above criticism. There can be no democracy without a free dialogue and the control of public figures is the responsibility of journalists."

A cartoon by Dimitris Hantzopoulos that depicts Panos Kammenos spraying Andreas Petroulakis with a black paint. Source: the cartoonist’s personal Facebook profile

It is noteworthy that the lawsuit against Andreas Petroulakis is not an isolated attempt by the government to intimidate journalists. A month ago, in one of his latest threats that the government "will not succumb, bow down and violate what the Greek people have ordered", he stressed, "When you are determined to fight for justice, you are determined to fight to the end." Then he compared this "end" with a gunpowder warehouse in Souli that a monk blew up as he was determined not to give the ammunition to the Ottoman troops that besieged the village in 1803.

In response to a journalist's comment that his extreme position could lead to a similar explosion, Kammenos said, "Some broadcasters, especially in the region of ​​Piraeus, may not yet have been blown up but the Greek family has certainly been blown up."

He thus described SKAI TV on which one often hears comments that criticise the government policy. The major Greek daily Kathimerini that publishes the cartoons by Andreas Petroulakis is part of the same media group.

A few days ago, Greek colleagues, journalists, organised an online petition in support of the journalist and against the attempts to suppress freedom of speech. "Political criticism and assessment of the activities of public figures is not only an established democratic right of every citizen but also an elementary obligation of every journalist. Therefore, the bringing of an action by a representative of the government and the amount of damages sought in this case logically assume that the aim of the applicant is the suppression of freedom of speech through preventive censorship implemented by intimidation of journalists", reads the text that accompanies it.

GRReporter team members support the petition and appeal to those readers who consider freedom of speech as a democratic value to do the same.

Tags: MediaLawsuitPanos KammenosIndependent GreeksAndreas PetroulakisPolitical commentsFreedom od speech
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