Greek police raid newspaper office

January 20, 2017 11:39 AM ET

Roughly 10 police officers on January 10, 2017, raided the Athens headquarters of the Greek daily newspaper Parapolitika and arrested the newspaper's director, Panagiotis Tzenos, Greek and regional media reported. The newspaper's publisher, Yiannis Kourtakis, was taken into custody later that day, according to Greek media reports.

The arrests were on libel charges filed the previous day by Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who is also the leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks Party (ANEL).

A court ordered both executives released pending trial the following day. The court scheduled the next hearing in the case for February 2, 2017.

Kammenos' criminal complaint alleged that Kourtakis and Tzenos had libeled him in remarks made on Parapolitika's radio station and that their public criticisms of him were attempts to extort him into withdrawing allegations he had made that the newspaper executives had improperly received funding from the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO), a state agency. The prosecutor investigating the case on January 11 dropped the extortion charge, Greek media reported.

The advocacy group the International Press Institute reported that the defamation allegations stem in part from accusations aired on Parapolitika's raido station that Kammenos' son has links to Pola Roupa, whom Greek police arrested on terrorism charges on January 5, 2017.

The Journalists' Union of Athens Daily Newspapers expressed concern over the climate for the press produced by a police raid of a newspaper's office.

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