[«Kotzias is an amazing piece of work: in the early 1980s, he actually wrote in support of the military dictatorship in Poland, praising their crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. Gauleiter of Stalinism indeed!»]
Written by Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the Center for Law, Philosophy & Human Values at the University of Chicago ©Brian Leiter *
Philosopher Alexander Nehamas (Princeton) wrote a useful account last year of what has transpired. In the United States, this libel action by a public official would have been tossed immediately; but Greek law is at another extreme, and, together with corrupt courts, they have supported the fascist Kotzias’s case. (Even under Greek law, as best as I can understand it, Nehamas is right: Kotzias was not accused of being a Nazi, although he’s certainly a fascist! Under official EU principles regarding freedom of expression, this guy should have no case.)
The ARB asked me to share this letter to the European Union–signed by myself and many academics internationally–about this attack on fundamental free expression rights the EU supposedly protects: Download ARB letter current february 5
Folks at the ARB wrote to me:
Please note that the list of signatories is not complete and that we are still in the process of collecting signatures. The full list will be held and updated regularly on the website of the Athens Review (www.athensreviewofbooks.com). Whoever wants to add their signature they can email their name and affiliation to email@example.com until the end of February when the letter will be sent officially to Presidents Tusk and Juncker.
We lodged an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (which incidentally has on two prior occasions condemned Greece in similar cases involving violation of freedom of speech following appeals by its editor-in-chief). However the case will be heard in 2020 and so the journal will be shut down before the hearing and that is why we are trying to make our case known and bring it before the European parliament for discussion.
The handling of our case has been sharply criticised by renowned professors and distinguished legal scholars. It is referenced in the Reporters without Borders’ 2017 annual report for Greece as well as in statements by the Association of European Journalists. In addition, four different MEPs from different political parties have submitted questions to the European Commission.
Freedom of the press and democracy in Greece are in jeopardy, in fact, Greece tops the list of European countries found guilty by the ECHR in cases concerning freedom of speech and violation of Article 10 of the Treaty of Rome. We ask that Greece finally respects the rule of law and EU Human Rights law. Our case shows is that the fight is never over and that for evil to triumph, all it takes is for good men to do nothing. This is not a struggle to merely defend ourselves; it is about defending principles and freedoms which we strongly believe are precious to all.
I have asked the ARB editors about whether they can set up a fund to which readers can contribute in support. I will post more information about this as it becomes available.
My ARB contact also noted that, «I should also warn you that the former minister is quite an aggressive person so he may try to intimidate you as he is known to have done in the past with people who dared to speak out.» I certainly look forward to hearing from this fascist SOB, and will be happy to educate him in American law. But if any other signatories hear from him, please let me know.
(Thanks to Allan Gibbard for prompting me to reach out to the ARB folks about where things stood.)
UPDATE: Kotzias is an amazing piece of work: in the early 1980s, he actually wrote in support of the military dictatorship in Poland, praising their crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. Gauleiter of Stalinism indeed!
ANOTHER: At this point, ARB is not seeking financial support at his point. My contact there wrote:
We didn’t organise this appeal to collect money because this issue is far more important that the economic aspect: the EU needs to solve the problem (not just ours but the problem of respecting article 10 of the Rome Treaty and ECHR case law). This is why we appeal to Presidents Juncker, Tusk and the European Parliament. The issue is broader and deeper because it concerns the illiberal mentalities of Greek judges who systematically resist ECHR judgments. Greek ministers win all court cases against he press. The case of the ARB is only the tip of the iceberg of the State of Injustice. We must change that. Imagine: the ARB is fortunate to receive the support of people whose articles we are honoured to publish but without this support our journal would be shut down without anyone hearing a word about it.
We requested a retrial in the Court of Appeals following the public confession of the former Minister that he served the Stalinist left, the very same characterisation that he pretended to be defamatory and which the courts accepted as such. The hearing will take place on 21 February. We are asking the court first and foremost to unfreeze our bank accounts so that we don’t have to wait until ECHR’s decision in 2020 to continue publishing. If the Court of Appeals doesn’t do it then we will ask for donations from our friends and supporters of the Athens Review.
What we need now is to make our case known in the English-speaking press. Whatever help from you in this direction will be truly precious.
Please readers, especially those who are journalists, help publicize what is happening. Thank you.
[*] Brian Leiter is Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the Center for Law, Philosophy & Human Values at the University of Chicago. He teaches and writes primarily in the areas of moral, political, and legal philosophy, in both Anglophone and Continental traditions.