Investigative journalist arrested in Greece
October 28, 2012
The Greek police arrested and then quickly released the owner of a respected investigative magazine on Sunday morning hours after he published a list of more than 2,000 suspected tax cheats who were said to have accounts at a bank in Switzerland. [NewYorkTimes]
Police took Kostas Vaxevanis, who runs Hot Doc magazine and who is one of the nation’s most famous investigative journalists, into custody on misdemeanor charges for violating the privacy of those on the list.
Many Greeks contend their government is not actively seeking well to do tax cheats who hide their income in out of country bank accounts while tax rates rise for the lower and middle class.
Greece’s European partners are set to meet to decide whether to grant tens of billions of euros in new aid to the financially struggling nation. Officials in Greece have long said that the government must crack down on tax evasion to be eligible for more aid.
On the list published in Hot Doc magazine was a former culture minister, several employees of the Finance Ministry and a number of business leaders. The magazine said its list matched a list of 2,059 people that was handed over to the Greek government in 2010 by Christine Lagarde to help Greece crack down on rampant tax evasion as it was trying to steady its economy. However, the Greek government appears to have taken no action after receiving the list.
Mr. Vaxevanis’ arrest raises questions about freedom of the press in a country that frequently reminds its European Union partners that it is the birthplace of democracy, the New York Times said. Reporter group Sans Frontieres issued a statement on Sunday expressing concern about the speed of his arrest.
“Costas Vaxevanis is not a dangerous criminal,” the group said. “The pressure created by the arrest of a reporter is clearly disproportionate. This procedure simply encourages an excessive cover-up, and the authorities appear to be imposing the ‘therapy’ of this sensitive issue, which is a gripping matter of public interest.”