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Journalists targeted in Greece bombings

Published time: January 11, 2013 18:51
Edited time: January 12, 2013 02:06
A resident stands next to the burnt entrance of a building following a series of arson attacks against journalists in Athens January 11, 2013.  (Reuters/John Kolesidis)

A resident stands next to the burnt entrance of a building following a series of arson attacks against journalists in Athens January 11, 2013. (Reuters/John Kolesidis)

Homemade bombs have exploded at the homes of five journalists from major media outlets in Athens. Police are linking the attacks to the current economic crisis in the country and the way the mainstream media have reported it.

The devices, made of gas canisters, exploded outside residences in different areas of Athens. The explosions caused minor damage to the buildings’ entrances, but no one was injured.

Among the bomb targets, the editor of the state-run Athens News Agency, two journalists employed by state broadcaster NET and two presenters from the private Mega television channel.

The outlets singled out- either state-run or controlled by some of the country's leading business groups- have traditionally been seen by leftist groups as closely tied to Greece's political establishment.

"We believe the attacks are related to the latest economic developments and the way the journalists present the facts," a police official, who preferred to be unnamed, told Reuters.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the explosions.

The blasts were the first coordinated attack against media workers since the debt crisis in Greece erupted in 2009.

Dogs stand at the burnt entrance of a building following a series of arson attacks against journalists in Athens January 11, 2013. (Reuters/John Kolesidis)
Dogs stand at the burnt entrance of a building following a series of arson attacks against journalists in Athens January 11, 2013. (Reuters/John Kolesidis)

“As we can understand, it was a message to them, because there were minor damages in front of their houses. It was a message to media and also some journalists to change the way they show the news about the economy crisis,” contributor for the Eleftheros Typos newspaper, Manolis Kostidis, told RT.

The Greek government has already condemned the attacks.

"This is an attempt to openly terrorize the media, a vital part of our democracy," said the coalition government's spokesman Simos Kedikoglou.

Greece is struggling through a sixth year of recession, with unemployment recently hitting the highest rate in the EU. It’s believed to have fuelled anger against foreign lenders, the wealthy elite and mainstream media – viewed by many Greeks as close to the political classes.

“Of course, as a media worker I don’t like these attacks and also I am afraid, because you never know what could happen one day in front of your home. From one way you have the government, from the other way you have the anarchist groups. And the third way is people in the streets. So, we have to be careful about the way we are presenting the news. It’s not really easy to be a journalist in Greece at this period,” added Kostidis.

Late last year some Greek state television staff were seen confronting government figures, as journalists began work stoppages to protest what they called increasing government censorship. Several media workers were fired.

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