The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Photographer Arrested in Greece

Photographer Oliver Jobard was arrested in Patras while he was covering the story below about Afghan refugees in the port.

Via Reporters without Borders

French photographer Olivier Jobard of the Sipa Press agency was arrested and beaten by a coastguard officer on 4 July while taking photos in the port of Patras, in northern Peloponnese, for a report on immigrants. Detained by the police on charges of “resisting an authority” and “physical injury,” he was released the next day pending a trial, which was due to begin today.

For years, a special permit has for been necessary for anyone taking photos within Greece’s ports, which are regarded as military or high-security areas.

Jobard told Reporters Without Borders that Sipa Press requested a permit for him but it had not been issued by the time he needed to begin working. He took photos without any problem on 3 July, when he was questioned twice by port guards and was allowed to continue working after showing them, at their request, the pictures he had been taking.

Jobard was taking photos on a landing stage in the presence of a group of tourists at around 5 p.m. on 4 July, when a coastguard officer stopped him and tried to take his cameras from him. When Jobard hung on to his equipment, the guard forcibly dragged him into a nearby public toilet, pushed him inside, handcuffed him and hit him several times in the face. He then pulled out a knife, cut the strap of Jobard’s camera, threw the camera to the ground and smashed it with his foot.

After being released the next day, Jobard filed a complaint against the officer for assault and battery.

The head of the Patras harbour-master’s office today told Reporters Without Borders that Jobard was detained while taking photos from behind a tree. He claimed that Jobard resisted when asked to show his permit, and kicked the guard several times. On the basis of a forensic doctor’s report, the guard filed a complaint against Jobard for assault, he added.

“While one can understand why the Greek authorities might insist on permits for photography in port areas, we can only condemn the violence used by the guard when arresting Jobard,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities have other means at their disposal for carrying out the necessary checks without using methods for which there is no place in the European Union.”

The press freedom organisation added : “Several Greek news media have criticised Jobard, essentially giving only the official version of the incident. While Jobard may have broken a regulation, his investigation into the problems of immigration and what life is like for immigrants deserves support.”

This is not the first time this has happened this year. I will update this story when I hear more.

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11 Comments

  1. Xenos
    July 17, 2008    

    I was told earlier this year by several foreign journalists that they had been refused permission to go to several Eastern Aegean islands where detention camps for illegal migrants/refugees have been set up. Instead, the Greek authorities chose where to take them and allow pictures to be taken. Sounds like China…

  2. July 18, 2008    

    I wrote about this story as well, DD after seeing your post. The cops can’t catch any real criminals but when it comes to beating handcuffed detainees they are Olympic gold winners.

    Craigs last blog post..Chieska

  3. July 26, 2008    
  4. Xenos
    July 26, 2008    

    You should feel that your blog has more impact, via Reuters…:-)

  5. July 26, 2008    

    Thanks for the link, Craig ! How does that happen ? Is that one of those social bookmarking things ?

    I feel famous for the day… 😀

  6. July 26, 2008    

    @ Craig. I had forgotten that I joined Blogburst ages ago (which powers the Reuters feed) but I hadn’t realised that that means nearly all my posts end up there !

    Not sure how I feel about that.

  7. July 27, 2008    

    Yet if this photographer does not take this case to the courts with a lawyer who cares so that it goes all the way to the European Court if necessary such things will continue to happen and people will just write complaints from their armchairs.

    Can you find out from the other guy what happened?

  8. July 27, 2008    

    Panayote, I think this case will go the whole way. He’s a pretty big name and is supported by some important organisations. I’m not sure who you mean by the “other guy ?”

    I have to admit I am a little offended by the “armchair” remark. Perhaps you didn’t mean it the way it read. Just wanted to say that I do what I can. :-(

  9. July 27, 2008    

    The other guy is the one who you wrote about some oaths ago and then reported he had taken some action.

    No I am NOT sure this will go all the way. The foreign organizations do not litigate they just advocate. As someone who has won cases at the ECtHR against Greece on issues that hardly anyone else has please trust my fear.

    The armchair does not refer to you who cannot do anything else, but to the victims and their supporters who have the means to litigate efficiently but do not do so and then when something else happens issue another statement and so on.

    Actually you know all that from the Roma at Votanikos case where in fact you were among the few who did not just write texts from home or office.

    Hope this clears the misunderstanding.

  10. July 27, 2008    

    Ah, you mean Teacher Dude ! He’s at http://teacherdudebbq.blogspot.com/. At the moment he is pursuing the case with a lawyer and will keep us up to date with any progress.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. I see what you mean now. I suppose I feel defensive because I really wish I could do more !

  11. July 28, 2008    

    and I really wish there were some cores of people (no need for more) wishing they could do more

    keep me posted on the other thing

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