NEWS

Stance changes on Zachopoulos DVD source

In a change of stance yesterday, the government appeared to be willing to allow the head of the prime minister’s press office, Yiannis Andrianos, to name the journalist who gave him the DVD that is the main piece of evidence in the alleged blackmail of former Culture Ministry General Secretary Christos Zachopoulos. The ruling conservatives had until yesterday backed Andrianos’s right as a journalist not to reveal information about his sources. This stance drew some criticism, as opposition politicians in particular felt that the government was hampering the investigation into the case. It is not clear exactly what prompted the government to rethink its position but spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that he would «respect» Andrianos’s decision if the press officer chose to reveal the identity of the journalist in question to magistrates. The ESIEA journalists’ union also appeared to give Andrianos the green light yesterday. After a meeting of the union’s board, ESIEA issued a statement saying that protection of sources «should not become an alibi for covering up illegal activities and oversights.» The DVD has become central to the investigation into the alleged blackmail of Zachopoulos as it supposedly shows the former public official in a sexual encounter with his former assistant, Evi Tsekou. However, police experts who have examined the footage on the DVD have advised investigating magistrates that the video has been edited and that some scenes are missing. If authorities learn who edited the footage, they could also find some of the answers in this unusual case. If the identity of the journalist is revealed, magistrates will be hoping that he or she might be able to shed some light on this aspect of the case. During questioning yesterday, Culture Ministry official Spyros Kladas denied claims by Tsekou that he had promised the contract worker a permanent position at the ministry following a request by Zachopoulos. Kladas told the court that he had met with Tsekou last September to tell her that she had failed the tests for the position, contrary to Tsekou’s claims that she had been assured of a place after doing well on the exam. Tsekou has been charged with attempting to blackmail Zachopoulos and contributing to his attempt to kill himself last month when he jumped from the balcony of his fourth-floor apartment in Kolonaki, central Athens. Zachopoulos continues to be treated in the hospital and has been unable to speak since his fall. Meanwhile, the first indications that the affair is having an impact on the government’s popularity emerged yesterday. A Metron Analysis poll for Antenna TV indicated that the conservatives’ popularity had dropped to 27.6 percent, compared to support of 26.3 percent for PASOK.