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Riot police storm ERT headquarters

Sacked employees call on public to rally outside building at 4pm

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Eight platoons of riot police, accompanied by a prosecutor, gained access to the building shortly after 4am, ordering all inside to vacate the premises under threat of arrest

Screengrab from ERT's broadcast showing riot police inside the station's headquarters (Photo: ERT) Screengrab from ERT's broadcast showing riot police inside the station's headquarters (Photo: ERT) Hours after parliament passed a law handing over the digital airwaves over to a consortium run by the owners of the country’s private TV stations, riot police stormed the headquarters of the former national station ERT in northern Athens in the early hours of Thursday morning, evicting staff who have been pirate broadcasting there since mid-June.

Eight platoons of riot police, accompanied by a prosecutor, gained access to the building shortly after 4am, ordering all inside to vacate the premises under threat of arrest.

Four people, including the head of the ERT staff union, were detained and taken to Attica police headquarters, but were released two hours later.

As news of the eviction spread, hundreds of members of the public assembled near the broadcasting building, but are prevented from entering it by riot police. Among them are MPs from main opposition Syriza and the Communist Party (KKE).

Speaking from near the building, Maria Antoniadis, the leader of the Athens journalists’ union Esiea, said: “We are here to defend the right of our colleagues to work.”

Yiorgos Savvidis, the president of the national journalists’ federation Posey, said: “Ten days before the anniversary of the junta’s storming of the Polytechnic [in 1973], the government has invaded ERT in the same way.”

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou described the police operation as one necessary to “restore legality”.

He said it was important for the government to take control of ERT’s headquarters and equipment ahead of Greece’s EU presidency, which starts in January.

In a tweet from the repressive state of Kazakhstan, which is 160th in the 2013 world press freedom index (pdf), Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis praised Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias for sending in the riot police. 

 

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