NEWS

Social media campaign launched in support of former ELSTAT chief

Social media campaign launched in support of former ELSTAT chief

The Friends of Greece society has launched a new social media campaign in support of the former chief of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, Andreas Georgiou, who has been dragged through the courts for almost a decade over the publication by ELSTAT (as the country’s statistics office is known locally) of Greece’s 2009 deficit figures.

In a letter signed by founding member Ted Truman, the society is appealing to social media users to express their support for Georgiou ahead of his latest in dozens of court cases, on September 24, in which the respected statistician has appealed an earlier ruling concerning a civil defamation suit.

“The judicial persecution of Andreas Georgiou started on September 19, 2011, and is thus entering its 10th year. On that day, the Greek Prosecutor of Economic Crimes initiated an investigation to examine accusations that Mr Georgiou and two senior managers of ELSTAT conspired to artificially inflate the 2009 government deficit figures,” Friends of Greece said in a statement.

“This saga of persecution continues. On September 24, a Greek court will hear Mr Georgiou’s appeal against an earlier ruling in a civil case of slander. This case, like the others in the saga, is all ultimately about the integrity of Greece’s statistical processes. This is how it is viewed in the Greek public debate, in which Mr Georgiou has become a hate figure and scapegoat for Greece’s systemic failings under governments of all parties,” it added.

Friends of Greece was founded by economist Paul Armington, sociologist Jan Dizard, and Edwin (Ted) Truman, a senior fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former assistant secretary of the US Treasury for International Affairs. It focuses on the integrity of governmental statistics in support of economic reform and economic and financial stability.

The beleaguered former head of ELSTAT has been cleared three time of charges that he falsified the 2009 budget data in order to justify Greece’s first international bailout.

Georgiou, who served as ELSTAT president from 2010 to 2015, has persistently denied any wrongdoing, saying he merely followed European Union rules in measuring the country’s deficit. Critics say the charges against him were part of a political witch hunt.

EU authorities have said his work was accurate and repeatedly expressed their opposition to his prosecution.