Saturday, November 3, 2012

Greek Journalist Acquitted On Privacy Breech

On Press Freedom

An article in Reuters says that  Costas Vaxevanis, the Greek journalist put on trial in Athens for breach of privacy after publishing the names of 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, has been acquitted on all charges.
Costas Vaxevanis was acquitted on Thursday of charges of violating personal privacy laws after he published the list of 2,059 names of prominent Greeks including several politicians, shipping magnates, doctors, lawyers, and housewives. "The main problem in Greece is the people who govern it. It is a closed group, an elite, one part of which is composed of people from all the parties and the second connected directly or indirectly to business people," he told Reuters in an interview.
He said politicians had first tried to hide the list, and then once he was arrested, Greek media ignored his case even as foreign media broadcast it around the world as an example of Greece's lack of progress in solving its crisis. "The list went out. They arrested me. They tried me, and there was nothing on the TV channels," he said. "It is a huge issue for freedom of press and the Greek channels didn't show anything."
Vaxevanis was thrust into the international spotlight after police descended on a friend's house on Sunday and arrested him a day after he published the list—swift action considering the slow approach Greek authorities seem to take against suspected tax evaders. And despite the lackluster mainstream coverage at home, blogs, tweets, and discussions on Greek streets showed the case had riveted a population that is increasingly angry at officials' inability to crack down on tax evasion and force the country's wealthy elite to share some of the pain of the four-year debt crisis.
Vaxevanis, a 46-year-old father of two, said his failed prosecution was an effort to protect the rich from the same kind of pain that five years of recession has given middle-class Greeks.
Such explains the symptom to a far deeper problem; where tax evasion is common or rampant and the government ignores it, courageous journalists will use the power of the press to "force" the government to act in accordance to their laws—ones that ought to applied evenly and fairly. This raises the question on which law is more relevant here: breech of privacy or freedom of the press. It seems here that the judge in this important case made the right decision. 

You can read the rest of the article at [BBC News]