How Greece became Europe’s worst place for press freedom

The country’s financial crisis sapped media profits. Outlets grew more partisan. Critical reporting waned. Threats toward reporters rose.

In late July, a team of German and French journalists landed a thunderous scoop: A classified report showing the EU’s border agency working with Greek authorities to turn away asylum seekers struggling to get ashore.

Reporters across Europe raced to follow up on the piece, which provided evidence of possible criminal behavior. Interview requests poured into Germany’s Der Spiegel, one of the outlets behind the story. One country, however, was noticeably quiet on the matter: Greece.

“You’d be hard pressed to find any reference to it in the pro-government press, which dominates, especially the airwaves,” said Giorgos Christides, a reporter at Der Spiegel. “In Greece, there’s two parallel media universes.”

The moment illustrated what journalists, media analysts, civil rights groups and EU investigators have been warning about for years. Greece, they say, is now seeing the troubling, violent and oppressive results of a years-long erosion of press freedom in the country.

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