A Citizen Journalist At Risk Of Imprisonment
Christos Bairamidis has been exposing the Greek far-right and Neo-Nazis online for almost a decade. Now he is facing time in jail because of reporting on a brawl he posted on YouTube.
Thursday, June 28th, was a joyous day. Not only for Irianna, 29, and Perikles, 34, who were eventually declared unanimously innocent after spending a year in prison for crimes they never committed. But for all of those in Greece who would share the desperation to live in a society whose judicial system can be proved inadequate, unfair and obscure.
She’s been convicted for “joining a terrorist organisation” without any substantial proof.medium.com
Irianna and Perikles will now have to make up for the wasted time and carry on with their lives, however the drama entitled “prosecution with loose or not-at-all evidence in Greece” comes with sequels. This time for citizen journalist, Christos Bairamidis.
Bairamidis’ case is less heavy than those of Irianna and Perikles, or of Tassos Theofilou, who had been convicted and jailed for 5 years before he was announced innocent. Yet, it stands as another example of how anyone, at any time and under any random occasion, can found themselves guilty or prosecuted with charges based on vague and absurd “evidence”.
The row of events
“We have seen many cases with a constructed indictment that bring many years of imprisonment. I believe that prosecutors and judges in Greece act as an extension of the police, using cases with the aim of keeping people in their homes”, Christos Bairamidis told AthensLive.
In 2013 Bairamidis was covering a demonstration in Athens when he noticed a bustle coming from a nearby taverna. A man, who later proved to be a Golden Dawn member, was getting beaten by a crowd. Bairamidis recorded the scene and posted the video on YouTube. A few days later the victim of the beating [and GD member] made a request for Bairamidis prosecution, which he later withdrew.
However, in 2015, without being aware, Bairamidis is charged with an arrest warrant, because he didn’t appear for interrogation. The reason of his non-appearance is that he never found the writ, as it had been sent to his old address. Quite notably, authorities seem they weren’t able to find Bairamidis new address, which could have been retrieved from his tax declaration for instance, but they indeed managed to identify him through his pseudonymous YouTube account.
Icing on the cake was that Bairamidis found out about all these no sooner than 3 years later, on March 2018 -by chance. His case was brought to court on May and after a postponement, it will probably begin in the upcoming November. “Typically, I am at risk of being imprisoned at any moment if I am stopped by a random police control”, Bairamidis says. He describes the situation as a “great psychological burden”, consisted of all “the stress of going out of your house and take the risk of getting arrested or the stress of driving, because if you get involved in an accident you may find yourself in jail”, he adds.
Targeted by Greek neo-nazis
The 32 years old journalist is well known to the far-right and neo-Nazi circles since his early 20s. His face has been showcased in their websites and his social media accounts have received “hundreds threats from GD members”. He has been targeted again in the past, so for him this latest adventure is not irrelevant to a Golden Dawn involvement.
“I believe that my prosecution proves once again the cooperation between police and Golden Dawn” Bairamidis says and continues: “It is no coincidence that the police have shown significant zeal to discover the identity of the video’s uploader. I have no evidence of these, but we know that omniatv (e.n. the outlets he works for) has been the target to both authorities and fascists. We cover the GD trial, we publish videos of police brutality; our videos have helped citizens who faced heavy accusations constructed by police to be dismissed of charges, we’ve done a lot of work and I think this is the reason we have been targeted collectively. It’s not only me.”
Omnia Tv has been supporting Bairamidis in all ways, including financially, a factor that has been another burden for him. “I think their goal was to destroy us. I personally get more persistent and continue doing what I did. These are my weapons towards state violence and fascism” he notes.
“Without equalizing my case with those of Theofilou, Irianna and Perikles, I think it represents the same logic: namely, to be a quiet citizen, to not do things that will have an impact. Then you will be safe. Otherwise, you may end up in jail, or at least in financial misery”, Bairamidis concludes.
Waiting for his trial, Christos Bairamidis experiences “fear but not spiritlessness”, as all the innocent accused or convicted did in the recent cases of legal absurdity in Greece.