Greek journalist in court over leaked Swiss bank data
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Greek editor Costas Vaxevanis (C) arrives at a court in Athens October 29, 2012. REUTERS photoA Greek investigative journalist appeared in court on Monday charged with breach of privacy after publishing names from an alleged list of Swiss bank accounts that the Athens government has been accused of trying to cover up.
Costas Vaxevanis, a veteran television journalist who is editor of the "Hot Doc" magazine, published the list in its Saturday issue. It included more than 2,000 names, allegedly from a controversial list of HSBC account holders that was originally leaked by a bank employee and passed to Greece in 2010 by France's then finance minister Christine Lagarde.
Vaxevanis says he received the information in an anonymous letter whose sender claimed to have received it from a politician.
He faces a maximum three-year jail sentence if convicted.
"Instead of arresting thieves and ministers breaking the law they want to arrest the truth," Vaxevanis commented on his Twitter account Saturday.
The list has been the subject of intense discussion in Greece in recent months, as officials have claimed the original list had gone missing, while some citizens have clamoured for the government to use it to crack down on potential tax cheats.
The first recipient of the data, Greece's then-finance minister George Papaconstantinou, told parliament on Wednesday that he did not know what had happened to the original version of the so-called "Lagarde list".
On Wednesday, current Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said he had asked France to re-send the list.
Greek officials have long maintained that the information was illegally obtained and cannot be used in the battle against tax evasion. Deputy Finance Minister George Mavraganis recently called the list "industrial espionage".
But mounting anger against a new round of harsh austerity cuts imposed on Greece by its international creditors has put pressure on the government to look for the list and use it to crack down on potential tax dodgers.
Lagarde is now head of the International Monetary Fund.