Dutch journalist Ingeborg Beugel, who caused a stir after questioning Greek PM Mitsotakis on migrant pushbacks last week, stated on Wednesday that she has left Greece after allegedly facing attacks and bullying.
The Dutch journalist, who has lived in Greece for 40 years, claims that she has been threatened and even had rocks thrown at her after her testy exchange with Mitsotakis over migrants became a hot topic both in Greece and across Europe.
#Greece: IPI is appalled that #Dutch journalist @IBeugel has been driven out of the country after facing threats, insults & even a physical attack. She was targeted in a malicious smear campaign & branded a Turkish propaganda agent after questioning the PM about illegal pushbacks pic.twitter.com/kPn5ehODqv
— IPI-The Global Network for Independent Journalism (@globalfreemedia) November 17, 2021
Dutch journalist says she has faced attacks, threats
Speaking to Dutch news site nu.nl, Beugel stated that she was advised to leave Greece after receiving death threats.
“They advised me to leave Greece as soon as possible and I did it,” she stated.
“A man threw a stone a my head. He called me a Turkish whore and spy and told me to go to Turkey. The stone hit me in the forehead. I was shocked and started running toward my house,” she said.
The Dutch journalist doesn’t plan to be gone for long, however. She stated that she still has “important work to do here” and that she will return to Greece when it is safe.
This all began after Beugel challenged Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis over the country’s handling of the migrant crisis.
Beugel openly accused him of “lying” about alleged migrant pushbacks during a press conference in Athens last Tuesday.
Exchange between Ingeborg Beugel and Mitsotakis
Standing next to visiting Dutch leader Mark Rutte, Mitsotakis was visibly angered by a question from the journalist. Beugel asked:
“PM Mitsotakis, when at last will you stop lying about pushbacks, lying about what’s happening with refugees in Greece. Please do not insult me and the intelligence of all journalists all over the world. There has been overwhelming evidence and you keep denying and lying. This is like narcissistic abuse. Why are you not honest? (about migrant pushbacks)”
Mitsotakis fired back at the journalist, accusing her of insulting not just himself but also the Greek people:
“What I won’t accept is that in this office you will insult me or the Greek people with accusations and expressions that aren’t supported by material facts when this country has been dealing with a migration crisis of unrepresented intensity that has been saving hundreds if not thousands of people at sea,” Mitsotakis stated.
He continued: “Rather than putting the blame on Greece you should put the blame on those who have been instrumentalizing migration systematically, pushing people in a desperate situation from a safe country, because I need to remind you that people who are in Turkey are not in danger,” Mitsotakis said. “We have a tough but fair policy in migration.”
He finished his statement by saying “I won’t accept anyone pointing the finger to this government and accusing it of inhumane behavior.”
The fiery exchange pushed Beugel into the spotlight, and she soon became the focus of Greek media.
Journalist at center of controversy
She is very active regarding migration issues and has often accused the EU and Greece of migrant pushbacks in her writings.
After Tuesday’s incident, she spoke to interviewers from Greece’s Kontra channel, claiming that one half of the population of Hydra, where she lives, voted for the (now-outlawed) neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in the country’s 2015 elections.
Hydra mayor Giorgos Koukoudakis reacted to the Dutch journalist’s comments about the local people and threatened to sue her.
“As a Hydraean and mayor of this island that is famous for its hospitality… that is why citizens from all over the world — including this lady — choose Hydra not only for holidays, but also for a place of residence.
After the Hydra mayor posted his comment, Beugel spoke to Kontra once again, retracting her remarks, saying that her Greek language skills are not very good and that she didn’t mean to say that one half of the island voted for the Golden Dawn neo-Nazis.
A few days after Beugel’s exchange with Mitsotakis, Greek newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton published an interview with the Dutch journalist who, inter alia, spoke about an attempted character assassination effort by the Greek press.
“A character assassination attempt was made in order to silence me,” Beugel charged. “They said that I have migrant servants or that I violated the law because I am hosting an undocumented migrant; none of that is true.
“The Afghan I host has been granted asylum, waiting for six years. I have no servants. I also host a Greek homeless person, I help Greek families and homeless people,” she added.