Athens Bar expresses ‘surprise’ at editor’s arrest

The board of the Athens Bar Association (ABA) on Tuesday issued a statement expressing its «surprise» at the arrest on Sunday of investigative journalist and editor of the bi-weekly Hot Doc magazine, Costas Vaxevanis, over the publication on Saturday of a list that he claims to be a copy of a record submitted by French authorities to Athens in 2010 of the names of Greeks with large deposits in a Swiss bank for the purpose of conducting a tax investigation.

Vaxevanis was taken into custody a day after the publication of the list in the fast-track ex-officio prosecution method, which allows a case to be heard within 48 hours of a suspect’s arrest. He was released from custody on the same day and his trial on Monday was postponed until Thursday to allow his lawyers more time to prepare his defense.

The ABA issued a statement on Tuesday expressing its «surprise» at the ex-officio prosecution of the editor, and at the «proverbial speed shown by the Athens Misdemeanor Court.»

The statement goes on to comment on the speed with which charges were brought against Vaxevanis «when against former ministers, who were by law responsible for utilizing the list and nevertheless ‘lost’ it, there has so far been no legal or other proceedings of any kind.”

The ABA accuses the authorities of «protecting powerful social, economic and political elements,» saying that «such choices transmit the message to society as a whole that the democratic institutions of Greece, or what is left of them, are operating exclusively for the protection of the authority system itself, at the expense of constitutional legitimacy and the rights of the Greek people.”

Vaxevanis faces charges of violating privacy laws, which his lawyers plan to contest by arguing that the list he published contained only names without any additional details.

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