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Greek editor arrested over Swiss account list publication

posted 28 Oct 2012, 09:43 by Mpelembe   [ updated 28 Oct 2012, 09:44 ]

A Greek editor and journalist is arrested in Athens after publishing a list said to contain more than 2,000 names of wealthy Greeks with deposits in Swiss bank accounts.

 ATHENSGREECE (OCTOBER 28, 2012) (HOTDOC)  Greek police arrested the editor of a weekly magazine for publishing a list of more than 2,000 names of wealthy Greeks who have placed money in Swiss bank accounts, police said the Sunday (October 28).

The so-called "Lagarde List" - given to Greece by French authorities in 2010 with names to be probed for possible tax evasion - has been a topic of heated speculation in Greek media in recent weeks.

It is named after International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who was French finance minister when the list was handed over.

The "Hot Doc" magazine published the list of 2,059 names including some well-known business and political figures on Saturday (October 27).

The magazine said it had been sent the list anonymously. Authorities did not confirm if the list was authentic.

A prosecutor ordered the arrest of editor Costas Vaxevanis on Saturday for violating laws on releasing private data.

A police source said the magazine published a list of names without special permission and violated the law on personal data, adding that there was no proof that the persons or companies included in that list have violated the law.

The list has inspired heated discussion in near-bankrupt Greece, where public anger at politicians and the wealthy elite grows as austerity measures take a toll on the poorer sections of society.

In a video sent to Reuters by his magazine, Vaxevanis defended his decision to publish the list.

"I did nothing other than what a journalist is obliged to do. I revealed the truth that they were hiding. If anyone is accountable before the law then it is those ministers who hid the list, lost it and said it didn't exist. I only did my job. I am a journalist and I did my job,"Vaxevanis said in the video.

He said he had not committed any wrongdoing and accused authorities of trying to muzzle the press.

Vaxevanis was released after a few hours and is due to appear in court on Monday (October 29).