OPINION

Breaking the abscess

The case of alleged extortions in the name of the November 17 terrorist group has led to a judicial inquiry. The court will decide – without the typical superficiality and tension to be found in television panels – on the responsibilities of those involved. What is indisputable, on the other hand, are the notes that the relatives of Dimitris Angelopoulos, the assassinated industrialist, discovered in his private records. These notes alone should be enough to spark a thorough investigation. Kathimerini cannot say whether November 17 was indeed linked to the alleged blackmails, or whether the implicated publisher extorted money by exploiting the fear that the terrorist group instigated among the circles of prominent businessmen. If the former is true, then the case will take a new twist given that the only possible link between the right-wing journalist Grigoris Michalopoulos and the terrorists is the local secret service. If the latter scenario is true, the case will be disengaged from the counter-terrorism investigation, yet remain no less intriguing. People in the know have been aware for years that several media outlets manage to survive because their owners use them as levers for – directly or indirectly – blackmailing business barons and politicians. They blackmail the former to extort money and the latter to influence decisions in favor of their clients. In other words, these publishers, as well as some journalists, play the role of middle men. Justice and the healthy section of the local media should not waste this unique opportunity. The probe was triggered by the handwritten note of the murdered Angelopoulos, but must go on. The case of Michalopoulos is only the first step in clearing up this ailing atmosphere. Now that the abscess has been broken, we have to drill to the bone of the issue. The truth is that apart from the issue of extortions, which are usually another form of media protection, there is also the crucial issue of business and political entanglement. At this level, blackmail assumes the form of exchange aimed at serving the mutual interest. In this case, the political and economic stake is much higher – which makes the phenomenon much harder to tackle.