Καλό ταξίδι, Costas
PressProject founder and friend Costas Efimeros dead at 42
“As a child I told my classmates my hacking skills were so good that I could take out the electricity grid of Athens at exactly 9pm,” Costas Efimeros once told me. “In fact I just threw a rope over the power cable and blacked out a few nearby streets. The next day, my friends looked at me like a superhero.”
Costas died yesterday, from a heart attack. He will be remembered both as a journalist and a pioneer of independent media in Greece, amid acute crisis.
I can’t remember when I first met him: the PressProject was just “there” in 2010–11 as the Greek mainstream media collapsed, amid the austerity. He was funnelling money from a successful computer software business into a highly lossmaking internet news and video channel.
Once, when we were collaborating on a scoop, he drove to Athens airport at 3am to pick me up so we would not have to use email. He understood the power of subterfuge in journalism, delivering scoop after scoop during the crisis.
Though critical of the austerity, and supportive of Syriza when it fought the Troika, he remained scrupulously independent of the left’s leading politicians. By creating a quality video platform and working to global standards, he enticed major politicians from the right and left into live interviews on a web-only channel.
He was a staunch supporter of Wikileaks, and its main local collaborator. He was a mentor to people who worked for him, and for his main competitors. He helped the team on #ThisIsACoup in numerous ways.
In a country where glamour and image are everything he was always uncomfortable in anything better than a roadside cafe wreathed in traffic fumes. He had almost no style. He would turn up in an anorak in summer. He cared only about the story and to get it he would use methods as blunt as he did with the electrictity takedown.
He looked after the staff of PressProject, poured his own money into the fight for straight journalism, knew everything about everybody, and was always laughing, including at himself. Like all Greek investigative reporters he worked at considerable risk to himself, from the oligarchs, fascists and crooks he fought against.
“I have already died eight times,” he once told me, by way of explanation for his heart problem. He shrugged it off. He lived.
You could say he loved Greece, loved the traditions of the Greek left, loved the class struggle — but all of it paled next to his love of the truth. Where is that loud, bearded guy with the ironic laughter now? With us.