Berlin, March 3, 2020 — Greek authorities should quickly and thoroughly investigate attacks on reporters covering refugee movements and ensure the safety of journalists who report on events of public interest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On March 1, a group of Greek protesters at the port of Thermi, on the island of Lesbos, attempted to block refugees traveling into the country from Turkey, and attacked journalists who were covering the refugees’ arrival, according to social media posts by journalists at the scene and news reports.
“Greek authorities must quickly and thoroughly investigate the attacks on reporters covering refugee movements on the island of Lesbos and ensure that they can continue their reporting safely and without fear,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said in New York. “Greek police have an obligation to protect members of the press.”
The protesters kicked and beat freelance photojournalist Michael Trammer, and threw his cameras into the water, the journalist tweeted. Trammer told CPJ via messaging app that he went to a local emergency room after the attack with injuries to his head, where he received stitches and an x-ray and was released.
CPJ’s messages to other journalists at the scene did not immediately receive any replies, but several posted about their experiences on Twitter.
The protesters kicked and beat freelance photographer Raphael Knipping, and hit him with his camera tripod, he wrote on Twitter, saying that he was with Trammer at the time of the attack. He wrote that Trammer was more seriously injured and that he was “ok.”
Protesters threw sticks at Der Spiegel reporter Giorgos Christides and chased his car while he was attempting to report on the refugees’ arrival, he wrote on Twitter, adding that the assailants built roadblocks to obstruct reporters and human rights workers. Julian Busch, a freelance photojournalist, posted a video on Twitter showing local residents throwing sticks at the car that he and freelance journalist Franziska Grillmeier were driving.
Trammer said he did not see any Greek police officers at the scene. Christides tweeted that police were “watching or non existent.”
CPJ emailed the press department of the Greek national police for comment but did not immediately receive a reply.