Human Rights Watch has spoken out against – which is supposed to curb the spread of fake news – citing possible misuses of the law.
“could be used to punish media professionals, civil society, and anybody who criticises government policies, creating a deterrent effect on free speech and media freedom”.
The bill was passed by the Greek parliament on November 11. It introduced harsher penalties for “serious crimes and the spreading of fake news by news organisations and on social media”.
Eva Coss, a Greece researcher at HRW, said, “In Greece, you now risk jail for speaking out on important issues of public interest, if the government claims it’s false.”
The law isn’t clear on what constitutes “fake news” or even “journalists”. Any person who “spreads or disseminates in any way false news that is capable of causing concern or fear to the public or shattering public confidence in the national economy, the country’s defence capacity or public health,” publicly or on social media can be punished.
Coss added how the “criminal sanctions” could make not just journalists, but “virtually anyone” afraid of reporting or debating national issues like Covid, migration, or government economic policy.
The Greek Journalists' Union of Athens Daily Newspapers also and the legal amendment on the "dissemination of false news" for being too vague.
The Greek crackdown on the media isn’t a new phenomenon. , the issue of “a sharp decline in press freedom” has been raised by media persons and civil society.
In April of this year, against a news publisher by 22 members of the Athens police. This came at a time when the police were under investigation for the torture of a young activist.
Subsequently, , “the freedom of media in the country has been deteriorating rapidly”, on account of government censorship and of journalists by the police during demonstrations.