Berlin, July 18, 2022 – Greek authorities must quickly and thoroughly investigate the recent arson attack on the privately owned radio broadcaster Real FM, and ensure those responsible are held to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
In the early hours of July 13, two unidentified people attempted to enter the broadcaster’s headquarters in Athens, the capital, as seen on security footage captured by the outlet, according to news reports, reports by Real FM’s affiliated news website Real News, and the station’s director, Giorgos Choudalakis, who communicated with CPJ by email.
When those people were unable to enter the station’s office because its elevator was not operational, they placed three gas canisters on an external staircase and lit them on fire, according to those sources, which said the canisters exploded and resulted in a fire that damaged Real News’ office on the first floor, Real FM’s newsroom on the second, and a shipping company owned by the outlets’ parent company on the third floor.
One Real FM engineer was treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation and was released within a day; no one else was injured, Choudalakis told CPJ.
“Greek authorities must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the arson attack on Real FM, and determine whether the outlet was targeted for its work,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Authorities must treat this incident as high priority and ensure that journalists will not be intimidated or attacked over their reporting.”
Choudalakis told CPJ that the outlet had not received and threats or warnings about the attack, and he said he could not identify any recent reporting that may have inspired it. Real FM covers Greek and international current affairs, hosts debate shows, and airs music, according to CPJ’s review of its content.
“There is a great diversity in the views our radio espouses and our radio producers manage to cover the entire political spectrum, so anyone could have been offended by our statements, and that leads me to believe that those who attacked us find democracy itself offensive,” he said.
Choudalakis told CPJ that police had opened a criminal investigation into the attack, but he had not been told of any progress in the investigation. CPJ emailed the Hellenic Police for comment but did not receive any reply.