Greek govt denies spying on media after report sparks outcry

The Greek government on Thursday denied to AFP that its intelligence service was spying on journalists, days after a report to that effect sparked outcry among media unions.

Unions expressed anger after Greek daily Efsyn reported on November 13 that the Hellenic national intelligence service (EYP), which directly reports to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ office, was spying on a wide range of private citizens, “including refugee agency staff, journalists and lawyers.”

Minister of state George Gerapetritis denied the allegation.

“Greece fully adheres to the values of democratic society and rule of law, especially pluralism and the freedom of the press,” Gerapetritis said in a letter to AFP.

“Accordingly, it is self-evident that there is no surveillance of journalists in Greece,” he added.

Efsyn published what it said was an internal intelligence document, requesting information on an investigative journalist who was later hired by AFP.

According to the paper, the surveillance was sparked by the journalist investigating the case of a 12-year-old Syrian boy held in a camp on Kos island for a story in the non-profit news site Solomon.

The Efsyn report sparked immediate condemnations by the main union of Greek journalists and the country’s foreign press association.

The International press Institute (IPI) tweeted it was “deeply concerned by reports” that investigative journalism is “secretly monitored by the National Intelligence Service.” 

“The surveillance of journalists by the EYP does not fit into democratic regimes”, said the Union of Athens’ journalists (ESIEA) in a statement.

The Association of Foreign Press (FPA) “unequivocally condemns the monitoring of journalists in a democratic country like Greece and the treatment of media investigations as potential threats”, according to a press release.