OSCE calls for decriminalization of defamation in Greece after journalist sentenced to 26 months on libel charges

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today condemned the recent libel conviction and sentence imposed on journalist Kostas Vaxevanis for stories written about banking practices in Greece.

“This ruling has a chilling effect on media freedom because it restricts reporting on matters of public interest,” Mijatović said. “Once again, this proves the need to decriminalize defamation to ease the pressure on investigative journalism.”

Vaxevanis was convicted of libelling financier Andreas Vgenopoulos and was given a jail sentence of 26 months, suspended for three years.

Mijatović said the reporter’s story originated from official documents, making the conviction even less defensible.

“When journalists base their reporting on content from official reports, international standards call for their protection in cases where this contributes to public debate on matters of legitimate concern,” Mijatović said.

Vaxevanis, who is facing 42 additional legal proceedings based on his reporting, has appealed the conviction.

Vaxevanis has already faced prosecution arising out of the same investigation which the Representative’s Office previously raised with the Greek government.

The Representative said she would continue to follow the developments in the case.

The Press Project