Greek blog aggregator admin arrested
(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)
Antonis Tsipropoulos, the administrator of a Greek blog aggregation website, blogme.gr, had his house raided, his hard drive seized and was himself arrested by the Greek cybercrime division, after having been served with a libel lawsuit without prior notice, because a public figure was offended by a satirical blog that was linked to by his site. The outraged response by Greek bloggers was immediate and unprecedented, reaching in the hundreds of posts within two days of the raid.
It was later revealed that the arrest and seizure had taken place 5 months prior to the revelation, but Mr. Tsipropoulos had chosen to withhold the incident. The story however received wide coverage in local media, as well as international attention, since it's disclosure coincided with the First Internet Governance Forum being hosted in Athens last week, that was attended by Internet luminaries, entrepreneurs and activists like Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn and Joi Ito and featuring panels on Openness and Freedom of Expression.
The IGF Openness session in particular dealt at length with the implications of the arrest, with whether blogs should be regulated and the larger question of free speech on the Internet. Chairing the session was Greek Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, who, when asked about the case, denied any knowledge of the incident. The Minister then went on to declaim against "bloggers who spread lies through television", giving rise to yet another hue and cry among greek bloggers.
Despite the successful campaign to break out the story to the media ahead of the IGF, Greek bloggers have largely been intimidated from the combined effect of the aggregator's arrest and the Minister's statements, and many fear that political blogging might lead to persecution as their status under Greek law is non-existent.
Prior successes of the Greek cybercrime division include the arrest of Swedish programmer Rick Downes on charges of spreading spam via handshake. Greece also made international headlines four years ago because of the shortsighted and highly controversial electronic games ban, that ended with the government being forced by public outcry, both at home and abroad - as well as the intervention of the European Commission - to amend the law and later suspend and deprecate it as unconstitutional.
On a related note, Amnesty International recently put out a "Call to Bloggers", to stand up for Internet freedom ahead of the IGF, while its representatives to the Forum presented special advisor to UN Secretary-General on internet governance, Nitin Desai, with a petition calling on governments to stop the unwarranted restriction of freedom of expression on the internet, and on companies to stop helping them do it", backed by 50,000 online signatures.
A representative of Reporters without Frontiers (RSF) also attended the meeting to accuse leading IT companies of assisting the Chinese government's efforts to curtail free speech in the country. RSF recently published its 5th Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index, which ranks Greece 32nd among 168 places, leading other EU15 members such as France and Italy, as well as the US, but lagging behind such countries as Namibia, Bolivia and Bosnia - Herzegovina.
Greek Blog Agregator
Greek blogger arrest infuriates world (30.10.2006)
U.N. blasts Cisco, others on China cooperation (31.10.2006)
Blogging in the free speech world (31.10.2006)
"Call to Bloggers" to stand up for freedom ahead of world meeting on future
of Internet (27.10.2006)
North Korea, Turkmenistan, Eritrea the worst violators of press freedom -
Press Freedom Index 2006
Greek Blogs on the blogme.gr case (only in Greek)
(Contribution by Asteris Masouras - oneiros.gr/blog )