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Greek journalist in court

October 29, 2012

A Greek journalist has appeared in court after being charged with breach of privacy for the publication of the "Lagarde List." His trial comes the same day a major Greek newspaper reprinted it in full.

Greek editor Costas Vaxevanis (C) arrives at a court in Athens October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis
Image: Reuters

Investigative journalist Costas Vaxevanis appeared in court on Monday, one day after his arrest for publishing a list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, which the government is accused of covering up.

Vaxevanis is a well-known television journalist and the editor of Hot Doc magazine, which published the names of Greek citizens with accounts at the bank HSBC.

The list of more than 2,000 names was handed to the Greek authorities by France's then-finance minister, Christine Lagarde, in 2010, earning it the nickname the "Lagarde List." She has since become become the head of the International Monetary Fund, one of three lenders in a troika charged with managing Greece's bailout.

According to police, Vaxevanis was arrested for violating laws regarding personal data. His trial will begin November 1, and he faces a maximum of three years jail time if convicted.

Hot Doc says the list was sent to them anonymously and authorities have not confirmed its authenticity.

"The prosecutor's office wants to protect tax evaders," Vaxevanis said outside the courtroom to a small group of supporters. "I am just doing my duty."

Major newspaper follows suit

On the day that Vaxevanis appeared in court, major Greek daily newspaper Ta Nea published the names in full over 10 pages.

The newspaper said that despite the list's publication, it has not drawn any conclusions about "its content nor the connotations it evokes in a large part of the public."

"Ta Nea is publishing the list today. Will they be prosecuted? A month ago it published a list of the tax returns of celebrities. Charges weren't filed," Vaxevanis wrote on his twitter account.

The list has angered some Greeks who are struggling to get by after several waves of austerity measures implemented by the government to secure international bailout funds. They believe the government hasn't done enough to investigate potential tax evaders.

dr/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP)