Accused publisher alleges contact with gov’t officials

Accused publisher alleges contact with gov’t officials

A newspaper publisher who was arrested earlier this week for allegedly blackmailing, among others, employees at public utilities claimed in secretly recorded conversations that he was friendly with some government officials.

The 42-year-old publisher is alleged to have extorted money in the form of advertising revenues from his victims by threatening to write negative articles about organizations or companies. Along with two of his journalists, the publisher is also alleged to have offered to write positive articles in return for cash.

Officers from the police’s anti-blackmail department recorded a conversation between the main suspect and an Athens Water and Sewage Company (EYDAP) employee on February 16.

According to the transcript seen by Kathimerini, the publisher claimed to be friends with Interior Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis and that he had publicly backed the government during last year’s referendum despite his personal doubts.

“I supported some positions that I found difficult,” he said. “It was very difficult to come out fully behind the ‘no’ vote but I did it.”

The publisher also claims in the conversation that State Minister Nikos Pappas was aware of his support for the government. Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Pappas threatened legal action.

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