Charges being leveled against Greek journalist Kostas Vaxevanis for publishing list of citizens with Swiss bank accounts are being labeled “hypocritical.” The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an organization with about 300,000 members, further says that Vaxevanis should not face criminal charges for doing his job.
Vaxevanis, an investigative journalist, is in proverbial legal hot water after publishing the names of 2,059 Greek citizens with deposits in the Swiss HSBC bank in HOT DOC magazine. Dubbed the “Lagarde List,” its publication initially landed Vaxevanis in jail and he is now on trial for the charge of “violating privacy law.”
According to the EFJ, the legal action is hypocritical due to the public exposure of the list in 2010 by then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde—for whom the list is named—to her Greek counterpart. One of the major issues at hand is whether Greek citizens on the list should be scrutinized for tax evasion.
Vaxevanis is not the only reporter to be targeted. Broadcast journalist Spiros Karatzaferis was arrested on Wednesday morning before he could broadcast footage that portrayed Greek financial authorities as deceiving the IMF over the country’s finances.
In a statement to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, Vaxevanis said he was being “sacrificed” by his government. He went on to say:
“There is no Greek who believes that I am going trial tomorrow, rather, it is the right that Greeks have to freedom of the press and the right to rock the system. Greece is run by a closed oligarchy of businessmen, politicians and controlled media groups. My publication of the list marked a confrontation, an extreme confrontation.”