On August 30, 2022, Greek authorities issued an arrest warrant for Petros Kousoulos, journalist and publisher of the weekly newspaper Bam sto Reportaz, in connection with a criminal investigation into alleged leaks of confidential documents. (Photo: Bam sto Reportaz)

Greek prosecutors summon journalist Petros Kousoulos in leak probe

Berlin, September 8, 2022—Greek prosecutors should immediately cease harassing journalist Petros Kousoulos, and ensure that leak investigations do not force journalists to disclose their anonymous sources, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On August 30, prosecutors with the Greek Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for Petros Kousoulos, a reporter and publisher of the privately owned weekly newspaper Bam sto Reportaz, and police searched for him at the newspaper’s Athens newsroom, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ by phone. Kousoulos told CPJ that he was not in the newsroom that day and was not taken into custody.

On August 31, Kousoulos voluntarily presented himself with his lawyer at the office of Supreme Court prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos for an informal conversation that was not considered the journalist’s official testimony, he said. Dogiakos told the journalist that he was not charged with any crime, and the arrest warrant sought to question him in a wider investigation into alleged leaks of confidential documents from Greece’s National Intelligence Service, known as the EYP.

Dogiakos gave Kousoulos a summons to appear at the prosecutor’s office on Friday, September 9, as a witness, the journalist told CPJ, adding that he planned to send his lawyer in his place. Kousoulos added that he would resist any attempt to force him to disclose his anonymous sources.

“Greek authorities should immediately cease their legal harassment of journalist and publisher Petros Kousoulos, and ensure that members of the press are not subject to arrest over their reporting,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Kousoulos’ work is in the public interest, and authorities must ensure that he can protect his confidential sources. Questioning journalists as part of a leak investigation puts them under unnecessary pressure and could have a chilling effect on national security reporting.”

On August 29, Kousoulos published an article in Bam sto Reportaz alleging that the EYP had tapped phone conversations between government officials concerning Qatari investments in Greece in 2016, under the country’s previous government. The article includes excerpts of those tapped conversations.

Dogiakos told Kousoulos that authorities were investigating potential violations of Article 252 of the Greek penal code, which concerns breaches of official secrecy. According to CPJ’s review of that law, which imposes prison terms of at least three months upon conviction, the article applies only to public servants found to have violated their official duties.

Previously, in April, journalist Thanasis Koukakis, financial editor for CNN Greece and a regular contributor for local and international outlets, disclosed that his cellphone had been surveilled by Predator spyware in 2021, as CPJ reported at the time. Reuters later reported that the head of the EYP told a parliamentary committee that his agency had spied on Koukakis, but a government spokesperson denied that the government used Predator software.

Separately, on August 29, two members of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ cabinet resigned after it was revealed that the EYP had tapped the phone of an opposition lawmaker, reports said.

CPJ emailed the Supreme Court prosecutor’s office and the EYP for comment, but did not immediately receive any replies.