Journalists’ Union ESIEMTH and Two Municipal Media Attacked in Thessaloniki

Update: 24 Jan 2018 State replied
Year 22 Dec 2017 Country Greece Category Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
22 Dec 2017 Greece Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ Level 1

On 20 December 2017, a hooded group of individuals tried to enter the building of local TV station TV100 and radio station FM100 in Thessaloniki. They did not manage to go beyond the entrance, but broke the windows and damaged vehicles owned by the media which were parked outside the building. One worker was hit with a crowbar and was sent to hospital for a light injury. The twenty assailants also threw paint, and leaflets with slogans against journalists reading: “A broken TV station for every evening news bulletin” and “Journalists, you ruffians”. The next day at noon, what appears to be the same group of people attacked the Journalists’ Union of Macedonia and Thrace Daily Newspapers's (ESIEMTH) headquarters. The staff were threatened by around ten hooded assailants and asked not to move as the intruders said that “an intervention (was) about to take place”. They destroyed two PCs, a TV set and other material such as chairs and a printer before leaving the office. Similar leaflets to those thrown on the premises of TV100 and FM100 were found. ESIEMTH told the EFJ that the police has launched an investigation.

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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