Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday warned media in Greece faced a “truly dangerous cocktail” of press freedom threats, a day after the Greek prime minister said the group’s rating of his country was “crap.”
In its 2022 ranking, a global benchmark for press freedom, the Paris-based NGO placed Greece in 108th position out of 180, the worst of any EU member state.
The country’s 38-place slide is partly attributed to the assassination of a well-known crime journalist in front of his home in broad daylight in 2021.
There is also an ongoing scandal involving the wiretapping of several journalists.
“Surveillance is a stain on Greek democracy that keeps spreading,” said Pavol Szalai, head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans office.
“Greece is a European country that combines all press freedom problems that exist in other European countries,” he told AFP.
This constitutes “a truly dangerous cocktail for press freedom,” he said.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was dismissive when asked about media freedom in Greece during a lecture in London on Tuesday.
“Sorry but that is just crap, excuse my language,” Mitsotakis said, questioning the methodology which ranked Greece lower than “at least two dictatorships.”
“We have a vibrant press, you can write anything you want in Greece,” Mitsotakis said.
“I would argue if anything that Greece has rather weak libel laws,” he said, pointing to negative reports about his family.
Since the ranking was published in May, Szalai said Mitsotakis’ government had taken no significant steps to improve press freedom.
“There is a real danger that press freedom will deteriorate”, he warned.
He said a fundamental problem in Greece was a lack of pluralism, as media ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few prominent businessmen.
He said that regular arson and vandalism attacks against media “perceived as pro-government” are also a concern.
Source Agence France-Presse