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23.01.2019

Greek neo-Nazis target press photographers: four injured, cameras smashed

 

by Jane Whyatt

At least four press photographers and a reporter are recovering from head injuries after being assaulted during Greece’s protests against the Perspes deal that will officially change the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia.

Greek neonazis target press photographers: four injured, cameras smashed Tomas Jacobi. Photo: Facebook

The agreement paves the way for the country to join NATO and the European Union.

Tomas Jacobi, author (with Angélique Kouronis) of an award-winning TV documentary about the far-fight Golden Dawn party, was targeted by extremists who referred to the film as they beat him up. 

He was working for La Croix, a French Catholic news website. La Croix quotes him: 

 “Several of them threw themselves at me and rained blows on me. They tried to grab my mobile phone and forced me to erase all the videos of the demonstration. I still have an audio recording of them beating me up for three and a half minutes before a blow stopped my recorder. I never imagined that one day I would have to cry for help.“

After spending the night in hospital under observation, Jacobi was allowed to go home.

Others having suffered injuries include Kostis Ntnamis - a freelance photographer who was working for Sputnik (the Russian state-backed TV network) - and CNN freelancer Lefteris Partseris.

Kostis Ntantamis Journalist Kostis Ntantamis being treated by paramedics.

Reporters Without Borders reported that a female press photographer, Tatiana Bolari, was hit by police using riot shields and that reporter Marios Lolos was also beaten by riot squad officers.

An Albania TV correspondent, Artur Bibe, was mobbed by far-right demonstrators during his live transmission on the Top Channel. Bile is Top Channel’s Greece correspondent. In the video, Bile says, "after we told them we are Albanians, they accused us for Prespes agreement" (the agreement on changing the name of Macedonia).

At least ten police officers were taken to hospital and the Athens police press release describes the violence as extreme:

During the rally, organized groups of individuals attacked the police forces with stones, irons, cadrons, flares, incendiary Molotovs and many others. Dangerous objects, with a clear intent to break the order of forces and invade Parliament. Indicative of the brutality and severity of the attacks is the fact that ten police officers were injured, who were transferred to the 401 GSC. (clinic),  Athens.”

Tassos Morfis, editor of Athens Live, the English-language news portal for Athens, told ECPMF: “This was a sad day for press freedom in Greece. The police could have done more to arrest masked fascists armed with knives and wooden clubs who were attacking press photographers.”

Morfis adds that not only those who were injured are suffering, but also the many photographers whose cameras were smashed or, in one case, stolen. Due to the economic crisis, many journalists are struggling to survive anyway and now they must cover the cost of replacing expensive equipment.

In the Greek Parliament, the Prespes agreement is now being debated and a vote is expected to ratify or reject it on 24. January.



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