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Greek journalist accused of exposing tax-dodgers goes on trial


Greece

Greek journalist accused of exposing tax-dodgers goes on trial

A journalist who published the names of wealthy Greeks who supposedly have Swiss bank accounts appeared in court in Athens on Thursday.

Costas Vaxevanis is accused of breach of privacy and faces up to three years in prison if found guilty.

Lawyers defending him are sidestepping a strike by legal workers in Greece, who include judges unhappy with the government’s austerity measures.

Vaxevanis’ defence team argued that the prosecution have filed charges without anyone making an actual complaint.

Vaxevanis, 46, the editor of Hot Doc magazine, said he was only doing his job as journalist by telling the truth.

He called the trial “targeted and vengeful”.

“There isn’t the slightest bit of evidence to support the charges,” he said during a recess.

“Obviously there are political motives. You see most of the names on the list are friends of the political system.”

Speaking about the arrest, Jim Boumelha, the President of the International Federation of Journalists, said outside the court: “We were all astonished by what happened last weekend. That’s the reason why I came here to testify in order to try and unravel this absurd farce that doesn’t happen in many countries. For that reason, the International Federation of Journalists is asking for the charges to be dropped.”

The names published are allegedly clients of HSBC in Switzerland.

The bank said the list of names was stolen two years ago and uses data on 24,000 customers.

Vaxevanis has said an anonymous source gave him the so-called “Lagarde list”, which International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde handed to authorities in several EU countries in 2010 when she was France’s finance minister.

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