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Press Freedom in Greece Worse than Qatar and Thailand

Greece Press freedom
Greek PM has labeled last year’s RSF report as “crap.”  He added that “We have a vibrant press, journalists can write anything they want.” Credit: , CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Greece came last among EU countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, for the second year in a row.

Greece now ranks 107th, right behind Qatar and Thailand, and performing worse than countries such as Niger, Lesotho and Haiti, the press freedom organization’s ranking shows.

The country improved a place compared with last year, but its overall score slightly decreased at 55.2 out of 100, from 55.5 in 2022. Norway, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden are best-in-class, with scores ranging from 88 to over 95.

The main reasons for Greece’s lackluster score, according to RSF, include arbitrary surveillance of journalists by intelligence agencies using the Predator spyware — dubbed the “biggest press freedom violation in the European Union in 2022″ — but also government interference in media, abusive lawsuits and insufficient legal protections.

The wiretapping scandal in Greece has rocked the conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis who is under pressure to reveal who – if not the prime minister himself – is responsible for tapping the phones of politicians and journalists.

Mitsotakis has maintained that he did not know that the Greek intelligence service (EYP) was phone tapping, despite the fact that EYP came under his personal control in 2019 when he assumed office.

Even if he speaks the truth, opposition parties say that he is incapable of running the country if he is unaware of what intelligence services do on his behalf. Many ponder the question: Who really runs Greece?

The 2021 murder of crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz was also never solved, the report says. However, a few days before the release of the Press Freedom Index, two men were arrested in Athens in relation to his murder.

The arrests in relation to Karaivaz’s murder were announced by Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos, who posted the news on his social media on Friday evening, adding that investigations continue.

“From the first moment, authorities had promised the case would be solved, no matter how long it would take,” Theodorikakos noted.

RSF’s Press Freedom Index ranks countries from 0 to 100 (the highest possible level of media freedom).

Greece’s PM says press freedom report is “crap”

In November, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis responded to the 2022 report of RSF. He labeled it as “crap.”

“I think there is no issue on press freedom in Greece,” the Greek PM said. “We have a vibrant press, journalists can write anything they want.”

Referring to the report by Reporters Without Borders, Mitsotakis said that placing Greece in 108th position in terms of press freedom behind Chad “is crap…excuse my language.”

Mitsotakis admitted that there are steps Greece can take in terms of further fostering a vibrant civic society, but he insisted that freedom of the press “is not an issue.”

“Just look at the daily newspapers in Greece,” he said. “Probably three-quarters are harshly criticizing the government, as they have the right to do. I would argue that Greece has very weak libel laws.”

He also explained that as a principle, he would never take any journalist to court. “But some of the things that have been written about me and my family—you would be in serious trouble if you write something similar in the UK,” Mitsotakis told an audience in London.

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