Greece: journalist in court for calling a Nazi ’a Nazi’

by Jane Whyatt, research by Prof. George Pleios
Veteran Greek journalist Stratis Balastas has been sued for using the word ’Nazi’ to describe a teacher who boasted on his blog that he is “.proud to be a national socialist“. The teacher Mr Makripulios supports Greece’s banned Golden Dawn far-right party. He had posted an article by Rudolf Hess, who was Hitler’s deputy in World War 2. Makripulios is a teacher at the 6th Gymnasium school on the island of Lesbos.

In court, Balastas defended himself by using this evidence to prove that his description of the teacher was accurate and in the public interest. Professor George Pleios, who sits on the ECPMF’s supervisory board, was on the island at the time and followed the case.

“The lawyers even brought dictionaries into the court, to look up all the definitions of the terms Nazi and national socialist“ says Pleios. “And Balastas is a very experienced journalist. Last year he won the ANA Award (the Greek news agency).“

However the judge ruled against Balastas and sentenced him to either three months in jail or a fine of 1,600 euros.

Describing the verdict as a violation of media freedom, George Pleios notes that many refugees fleeing war across the Mediterranean have passed through the island of Lesbos over the past year. Some islanders have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for helping the refugees. But others are joining the anti-immigration movement Golden Dawn in large numbers, according to Professor Pleios’s sources.