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Journalist Kostas Vaxevanis acquitted in Lagarde list case

Prosecutor had called for guilty verdict for Hot Doc publisher

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Hot Doc publisher Kostas Vaxevanis acquitted for a second time of charges relating to the publication of the Lagarde list of 2,000 Greeks with accounts in a Swiss bank

Hot Doc publisher Kostas Vaxevanis Hot Doc publisher Kostas Vaxevanis An Athens court has acquitted publisher and journalist Kostas Vaxevanis at his retrial on charges of breaking privacy laws by publishing of a list of 2,000 Greeks with accounts in a Swiss bank.

Vaxevanis was exonerated of the same charge over his publication of the Lagarde list in October last year, a decision that was overturned by the state prosecutor. 

In his defence, the accused had told the court that he had published the list in order "to expose the system of corruption that is oppressing the country and which is on that list". 

"The list is staggering. It exposes the system of corruption. It includes a former prosecutor and current [ministerial] general secretary, publishers, advisers to the prime minister, entrepreneurs. None of them have been inspected," Vaxevanis continued, emphasising that no where did he state that any of those on the list were tax evaders or were guilty of criminal offenses.

Speaking after the hearing, Vaxevanis' lawyer Harris Ikonomopoulos said Vaxevanis was only doing his duty. 

"Today, we were threatened with the unthinkable but the obvious was decided. In what was an irrational case with an absurd prosecution, Kostas Vaxevanis has been acquitted for a second time. He did his duty and got away with it. Let this be a lesson for those who want to do their duty, that justice is on our side," said Ikonomopoulos, who is publisher of Eleftherotypia, to which EnetEnglish.gr belongs. 

The prosecutor in the case had called for Vaxevanis, who published the so-called Lagarde list in his Hot Doc news magazine, to be found guilty.

He highlighted the fact that Vaxevanis had included the professions next to the names of the account holders, none of whom had consented to their details being published. 

"This trial is not about censorship or intimidation but about the limits of two statutory rights which 'clash'," the prosecutor said, arguing that his approach would have been different if the accused had "only published the names of holders of public office or their intermediaries" .

In October 2012, Vaxevanis' news magazine, Hot Doc, published a list of 2,059 Greek residents with accounts at the Geneva branch of HSBC. He said that he had verified the authenticity of the list, which was delivered anonymously to the magazine on a flash drive, by calling up a tenth of the people on it and asking them to confirm that they had an account with HSBC. He says they also verified the balance of their accounts as those appeared on a particular date on the list. Hot Doc published only names of the account holders and their stated profession. It did not disclose the amount of money they were holding in the bank.

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