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Greece10 May 2005

Second attack on a sports journalist in Athens

Reporters Without Borders expressed dismay at a violent assault on sports journalist Kostas Nikolakopoulos, apparently by football hooligans, just after he finished broadcasting on Sport FM radio in Athens on 7 May.

Four hooded men armed with iron bars and knuckledusters rained blows onto the journalist in front of his wife and two young daughters as he was returning home. They only stopped once he was lying on the ground. His wife took him to Nikea Hospital close to the scene of the attack. Nikolakopoulos, who also works for dailies Fos ton Sport and Adesmeftos Typos, was left with head, rib and hand injuries.

"It is essential that those who carried out this attack should be quickly identified and taken before a court," said the worldwide press freedom organisation. "A climate of impunity, which would be damaging to press freedom, should not be allowed to take hold. Sports journalists should be able to express themselves without being intimidated or attacked by supporters," it said.

"This attack was carried out by football hooligans", the 41-year old journalist said as he left hospital 48 hours later. "I have been receiving veiled threats for three months. A week before the attack a man phoned my home and kept asking for my address so he could deliver a package. But after checking, no package was ever sent to me", he told Reporters Without Borders. He will be out of action for two weeks.

Police say the assailants are Greek football supporters. They were checking a recording of the broadcast Nikolakopoulos had just finished. He covers sports events linked to Olympiakos football club and its supporters.

It is the second violent assault on a sports journalist in Athens in recent months. On 18 October 2004, Philippos Syrigos, sports editor of the daily Eleftherotypia, who specialises in revelations within the sports world, was beaten up by thugs wearing motorcycle helmets and armed with knives. He had just left the offices of Sport FM in Athens’ Kallithéa district.

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