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Greece journalists denounce press freedom backslide

Written by The Frontier Post

Athens (AFP/APP):A reporter’s murder, the prime minister publicly scolding a foreign journalist, and alleged state surveillance. It’s been a bad year for media rights in Greece.
The southern European country fell five spots in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and now ranks 70th out of 180 countries, behind Poland and Mongolia.
George Pleios, head of media studies at the National University of Athens, says the deterioration over the past year has been alarming.
“Freedom of the press has become a concern,” he told AFP.
Pleios said a raft of press freedom violations in recent years have included journalists being detained or intimidated, and police beating photographers during protests. But in April, a prominent crime reporter, 52-year-old Giorgos Karaivaz, was gunned down outside his home in Athens. The government ordered an investigation, but no arrests have been made.
Over the past year, the government has ignored requests for information on key stories and pressured journalists over unfavourable reports, while parliament in November passed a new law to punish misinformation with up to five years in jail.
People can now go to prison over alleged fake news “capable of causing concern or fear to the public”, in a move Athens newspaper journalists’ union Esiea has said is too vague and risks restricting free speech.
Journalists say that, throughout 2021, police and government ministries have routinely ignored their emails seeking answers on the coronavirus pandemic, police abuses and the migration crisis.

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