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Greek editor in court over Swiss bank list

Monday, October 29, 2012 - 01:58

Oct. 29 - A major Greek newspaper has reprinted the names of 2,000 wealthy Greeks with Swiss bank accounts as the editor who first published the list is told he will stand trial for violating data privacy laws. Sonia Legg reports.

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Costas Vaxevanis is facing a possible two years in jail - his crime, he says, is reporting the facts. The Greek journalist published the names of 2059 wealthy Greeks who have Swiss bank accounts. He's now facing charges of violating privacy laws. Crowds of supporters attended his first court appearence, which ended in an adjournment. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) EDITOR OF HOT DOC MAGAZINE AND JOURNALIST, COSTAS VAXEVANIS, SAYING: "I did my job in the defence of public interest. I gave to the public the names that need to be investigated. Journalism is to reveal the truth when others try to hide it, everything else is public relations." The list was printed in Hot Doc - a weekly magazine he edits. It's known as the Lagarde List after the former French Finance Minister - and now IMF chief. It was given to Greece in 2010 by the French authorities as part of a tax evasion inquiry. And Vaxevanis's lawyer says publishing is no crime. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VAXEVANIS'S LAWYER, HARRIS IKONOMOPOULOS, SAYING: "This is not sensitive and personal information the name and the fact that the specific name has a transaction with a bank, without disclosing the transaction is not sensitive data, is not protected data." Vaxevanis' defence may be helped by a major Greek newspaper which reprinted the names on Monday. Ta Nea devoted 10 pages to the HSBC accounts said to have held - until 2007 - some 2 billion euros. George Savvidis is President of the Greek Newspaper Editors' Association. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) PRESIDENT OF NEWSPAPER EDITORS ASSOCIATION, GEORGE SAVVIDIS, SAYING: "This arrest and trial is ridiculous. A major newspaper has now circulated these names and they have not been arrested." The paper stressed there was no evidence linking any of the account holders to tax evasion. But there's anger that former ministers didn't look into suspected evaders. Two politicians on the list have now been referred for parliamentary investigation. But the scale of the deposits has also shocked many austerity-hit Greeks currently enduring their fifth year of recession.

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Greek editor in court over Swiss bank list

Monday, October 29, 2012 - 01:58