Greek journalist's leaked Swiss data trial to open
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Kostas Vaxevanis (C), Greek journalist and publisher of the magazine 'Hot Doc' exits the prosecutor's office in Athens. EPA PhotoA Greek investigative journalist was due to stand trial later today after publishing names from an alleged list of Swiss bank accounts that the government is accused of failing to investigate.
Costas Vaxevanis, a 46-year-old veteran television journalist who now publishes a magazine, insists he was doing his job while ministers responsible for vetting the list for possible tax evasion did nothing for two years.
"We will endure this. Will they?" Vaxevanis tweeted ahead of the trial, which is scheduled to open after 0700 GMT.
Greek lawyers have called a strike on Thursday over austerity reforms, but Vaxevanis' legal team would be allowed to represent him, a judicial source said.
Vaxevanis, briefly arrested on Sunday and released to prepare his defence, has been charged with breach of privacy and faces a maximum three-year prison sentence if convicted.
He has accused the Greek state of hypocrisy and says the justice system is bowing to a corrupt political system.
"In Ancient Greek mythology, justice is presented as blind. In modern Greece, it is merely winking and nodding... justice remains in thrall to politics," he wrote in an article in The Guardian newspaper earlier this week.
"Dealings with banks are carried out in public, not in secrecy. The existence of a bank account is therefore not personal data," he wrote.
Vaxevanis' 'Hot Doc' magazine on Saturday published the names of more than 2,000 Greeks, 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.
Viewing the list as stolen data that could not be used against potential tax evaders, the Greek authorities took no action for two years.
When the case resurfaced last month, it took several days for officials to even locate a copy of the so-called "Lagarde List".
The data has been the subject of intense discussion, with the government facing calls to use it to crack down on potential tax cheats as the country grapples with a massive debt crisis.
Vaxevanis, who denies the charge against him, says he received the information in an anonymous letter whose sender claimed to have received it from a politician.
Among those named are prominent businessmen, shipowners, lawyers, doctors, journalists and a former minister, as well as companies and "housewives".