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Greece7 October 2002

Journalists attacked over coverage of crackdown on November 17 terrorist group

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its concern about the recent attacks again Greek journalists and news organisations that have taken place against a backdrop of controversy about news coverage of the arrests of members of the November 17 terrorist group.

"The use of violence against journalists is never justified," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said, urging those who take issue with coverage of the November 17 arrests to voice their criticisms verbally in forums for public debate. "Those who accuse the press of bias on this issue should use democratic means to put their case."

On 2 October, some 20 helmeted individuals, apparently members of an anarchist group, attacked the Athens offices of the daily newspaper Apogevmatini, tossing Molotov cocktails and setting fire to several vehicles. The newspaper’s staff were at work at the time, but no one was hurt. The assailants all fled before the police arrived. The newspaper, whose owner Nikos Momfertos was murdered by November 17 in 1985, had come out clearly in favour of cracking down on the terrorist group, which has claimed responsibility for the deaths of a total of 23 Greek and foreign figures since 1975.

During a march on the US embassy in Athens on 26 September, protesters destroyed a truck belonging to the private television channel Mega, and caused minors injuries to a reporter and two technicians. Several news photographers and cameramen had their equipment destroyed. Messages of support for November 17 were found written on walls.

On 13 September, about 30 presumed anarchist militants attacked TV journalists filming outside the Athens home of Ioanas Kourtovic, a lawyer who is defending two of the detainees accused of being November 17 members.

The assailants asked the journalists what they were doing there and accused them of biased coverage. They threw their cameras to the ground, hit the journalists, and then made off before the police arrived.

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