Riot police removes former ERT employees from defunct state broadcaster’s headquarters

An Athens prosecutor ordered riot police officers to enter the headquarters of the now defunct state broadcaster ERT in the early hours of Thursday.

According to early reports, riot police units asked former ERT employees who were broadcasting from the building to leave the premises in the northern suburb of Agia Paraskevi.

Protesters subsequently gathered outside the building at 6 a.m. Traffic was interrupted on Mesogheion Avenue early on Thursday.

“The battle for democracy and social justice which ERT workers have been fighting for more than four months, has reached its most crucial moment,” read a message on ERT’s Facebook page calling for people to protest in solidarity. “It’s time to act, rally now!”

Reports suggested that four former ERT employees were detained by police for questioning.

A group of 10 SYRIZA MPs who attempted to enter the premises were reportedly stopped by police forces.

In comments made on Thursday, Pantelis Kapsis, the deputy minister for public radio and television denied knowledge of plans to raid the building, saying the operation was organized by the Ministry of Public Order.

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said the operation marked “the end of an illegal occupation.”

“The authorities have implemented the law,” Kedikoglou told Skai radio.

The government’s decision to close down the media network last June citing the need for cost-cutting measures due to the ongoing debt crisis drew international criticism, while a number of laid-off ERT employees continued to produce programs streamed online.

Meanwhile, an interim network replacing ERT started broadcasts in July.

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