|Journalist Kostas Vaxevanis arrives in court, 29 October 2012 (Reuters)
Journalist Kostas Vaxevanis’ hearing on charges of violating personal data for publishing the Lagarde list has been postponed to November 1.
Friends, colleagues and supporters of the Hot Doc magazine publisher gathered outside the court house at noon on Monday, when the hearing was due to take place, including MPs and journalist union representatives.
Vaxevanis appeared in court on charges of violating personal data, two days after his news magazine Hot Doc published a leaked list of 2,059 Greek residents with accounts in Swiss bank HSBC. The list published by the magazine contained only names without the size of the bank accounts.
The defence requested that the hearing be postponed because a number of people whose names are on the list had expressed their intention to testify as witnesses, defence lawyer Charis Oikonomopoulos said.
Vaxevanis’ other lawyer, Nikos Konstantopoulos, stated the defence’s intention to highlight the political dimension of the case.
Exiting the court Vaxevanis said among others that it was his duty to publish the list because “everything else is public relations”.
Vaxevanis was arrested in the northern suburbs of Athens on Sunday, in execution of a warrant issued ex officio by an Athens prosecutor on Saturday night, just hours after the publication of the list.
Minutes before his arrest he had tweeted his whereabouts and challenged police waiting outside to pick him up.
The journalist was briefly detained at the GADA police general headquarters on Alexandras Avenue and was released three hours later, to the cheers of waiting supporters, after appearing before a public prosecutor.
Syriza in an announcement called the ex officio action against Vaxevanis “provocative and unacceptable”, noting that “justice hastened to act against those who reveal, whereas it displays sluggishness vis-a-vis those who conceal”.
“The prosecution is political, and as such should be faced by the entirety of the Greek people who are called on these days to suffer the consequences of the harshest and class-oriented policy ever known to Greece since the restoration of democracy, and also the consequences of the long-standing and systematic tax evasion by ‘those who have’,” Syriza charged.
In a similar statement, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also called the action against Vaxevanis “unacceptable and provocative”.
“The mockery and deception of the Greek people (with ‘lists’) by those who conceal them, hide them or use them according to their political and economic expediencies must stop,” the KKE said, adding that “the economic system and prevailing political forces do not want the people to learn the truth, and it is in their interest to disorient and deceive them.”
The list had ended up in the hands of French authorities roughly four years ago when they seized digital evidence from the house of former HSBC employee Herve Falciani, who was wanted by the Swiss authorities and who had illegally copied details of bank accounts that belonged to roughly 20,000 people.
The list was sent to then finance minister George Papaconstantinou by his French counterpart Christine Lagarde. Papaconstantinou claimed to have had the original list, sent in CD format, copied on a USB stick which he turned over to the ministry’s financial crimes squad SDOE for investigation, and that he turned over the original CD and accompanying documents to his office for “confidential safekeeping” and was unaware of its current whereabouts.
Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos produced the memory stick containing the list a few days later, saying he had received from SDOE Special Secretary Ioannis Diotis when the former was deputy prime minister and minister for finance in the Papandreou government. (Athens News/dv, AMNA)