Prosecutor recommends trying suspects in journalist extortion ring

An appeals prosecutor recommended on Monday that two suspects involved in a journalist extortion ring be prosecuted before a three-member appeals court for active bribery, embezzlement towards the State, repeated blackmail and forming a gang.

Journalists Panagiotis Moussas and Christos Fragou along with the now-deceased publisher of Acropolis newspaper Panagiotis Mavrikos were arrested in February 2016 after an employee of Greece’s water utility EYDAP reported they tried to extort money from her in exchange for favourable media coverage for the company.

The accused allegedly demanded state-sponsored advertising from several public organizations, entities and banks.

Prosecutor Vasiliki Krina recommended maintaining the restrictions on movement imposed on the two journalists -namely prohibiting them from leaving the country and obliging them to report to a police station three times a month- until the final hearing on the charges against them has been heard. She also recommended closing the file on Mavrikos who died.

A separate case file has been formed against eleven members of Attica Bank’s advertising committee and one former senior official of EYDAP. The twelve suspects have been charged with breach of trust, after they approved ad placements in printed and online media linked to Mavrikos for sums that were judged as “disproportionately high” in relation to their circulation and traffic.

The crime was reportedly committed between 2013 and 2015 and resulted in losses totaling 250,000 euros for EYDAP and about 380,000 euros for the bank.