Greece ranks as lowest EU country in press freedom report for second consecutive year News
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Greece ranks as lowest EU country in press freedom report for second consecutive year

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index Friday ranked Greece as the lowest-ranked country in the EU for press freedom for the second consecutive year. The RSF annual report on the state of press freedom across 180 countries found that Europe is the safest region for journalists to work in the world. However, Greece has been ranked 107th, the lowest score in the EU, due to increased hostility towards the media and security breaches.

Press freedom in Greece has remained precarious for several years, with journalists facing violence, censorship and surveillance. In 2022, Greek security forces were found to be targeting journalists and opposition politicians using the spyware Predator. Called “Predatorgate,” the spyware scandal was uncovered in April 2022 following a report from Inside Story that the spyware was used to surveil crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz before his murder in 2021. The spyware required targets to click on a phishing link using their mobile device, which gave Predator access to their entire device system. This allowed Predator to monitor phone calls, messages, internet history, contacts, photos and videos. It was later revealed that the spyware was purchased and used by the Greek National Intelligence Service, resulting in several lawsuits against media outlets that reported on the scandal.

Greece’s media landscape faces high digital fragmentation resulting from a widespread lack of trust in news media, political polarisation and increased social media usage to access news. In December, the Greek parliament ratified a new media law to increase press transparency. The Strengthening publicity and transparency in the printed and electronic press – Establishment of electronic registers of printed and electronic press and other regulations of the competence of the General Secretariat of Communication and Information law established an “ethics committee” to oversee compliance of digital media to journalistic ethics. However, there are concerns that the law may promote the censorship of critical media outlets due to the committee’s ability to exclude digital media from government financial support and uncertainty about the committee’s independence.

Reporters face hostility and violence from the public and authorities and are often prevented from reporting on topics of crime, protests and the refugee crisis. Violence against journalists has persisted without intervention following Karaivaz’s murder in 2021, which remains unsolved. Karaivaz reported on police corruption, dealings with organised criminal groups and policy breaches in the weeks before his death. His death, and the death of investigative journalist Sokratis Giolias in 2010, were in similar circumstances and were allegedly carried out by professional hitmen. No arrests have been made in connection with either case.