Berlin, April 30, 2021 — Greek authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the alleged assassination plot targeting investigative journalist Kostas Vaxevanis and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On April 23, Vaxevanis, an investigative journalist and editor of the Documento newspaper, published an article in the paper stating that he had been told that a contract had been tendered for his assassination, and that the recent subject of a Documento investigation was “in search of someone in the criminal underworld to execute a contract for him.”
The reporting subject was identified in that article as Menios Fourthiotis, a TV presenter for the privately owned broadcaster New Epsilon TV, whom Vaxevanis had recently accused of fabricating his journalistic credentials.
On April 27, Athens police raided Fourthiotis’ home and arrested him and two others, and are investigating them for alleged weapons violations and in relation to a complaint Vaxevanis filed with authorities on April 24, according to news reports.
On April 9, 2021, veteran crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz was shot and killed in Athens, and police said that the killing appeared to be “a professional hit,” as CPJ documented at the time.
“The alleged assassination plot targeting Greek journalist Kostas Vaxevanis is extremely chilling, especially as it comes on the heels of an assassination of a reporter in the country,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Threatening a journalist because of his coverage is completely unacceptable, and Greek authorities must take every possible measure to ensure that Vaxevanis can work safely, and that anyone plotting for his harm is held to account.”
CPJ emailed D. N. Anagnostopoulos & Associates, a law firm representing Fourthiotis, but did not receive any reply. The suspects denied any wrongdoing, according to those reports.
On April 6, a man whose name was not disclosed told Vaxevanis about the contract on his life and said that Fourthiotis wanted another journalist killed as well, but the man could not remember their name, according to Vaxevanis’s article in Documento. Another source told the journalist that the killing was originally scheduled for April 16, but was delayed after two of the would-be assassins clashed with police earlier that day, Vaxevanis wrote.
Also on April 16, an unidentified man was recorded by Documento’s CCTV cameras trying to enter the paper’s office, but when he noticed that he was spotted by the security system, he fled the building through an emergency exit, Vaxevanis wrote.
Authorities have questioned the three suspects arrested in relation to the April 16 clash with police and other firearms allegations, according to those news reports.
Following Vaxevanis’ complaint to authorities on April 24, the Athens prosecutor’s office ordered the police to assign protection to the journalist, the local daily Kathimerini reported. CPJ emailed the Athens prosecutor’s office for comment, but did not receive any reply.