Greek journalist Costas Vaxevanis has been acquitted of breaching privacy for publishing the names of 2,000 suspected tax evaders.
Costas Vaxevanis published a list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, including a government minister and other prominent figures in public life.
Lawyers for Costas Vaxevanis, 46, argued that the charges were outrageous and said no-one on the list had actually complained of a breach of privacy.
After a one-day trial, a court in Athens found Costas Vaxevanis innocent.
He published the list in
Hot Doc, the weekly magazine that he edits.
Greece is being urged by international lenders to crack down on tax evasion as part of far-reaching reforms demanded in exchange for billions of euros of bailout money.
Greek journalist Costas Vaxevanis has been acquitted of breaching privacy for publishing the names of 2,000 suspected tax evaders
The list of suspected evaders was reportedly leaked by an employee at the HSBC bank and passed to IMF chief Christine Lagarde when she was French finance minister in 2010.
Christine Lagarde apparently handed the list to the Greek authorities, but they took no action.
Two of Greece’s former finance ministers have acknowledged seeing copies of the list.
However, Yannis Stournaras, who took office in June, has told parliament he has not seen it.
Costas Vaxevanis said he had published the list because it was his job as a journalist to reveal the truth.
“The three last governments have lied and have made a mockery of the Greek people with this list,” he said. “They were obliged to pass it to parliament or to the justice system. They didn’t do it, and they should be in prison for it.”
Prosecutors had accused him of publicly ridiculing people and delivering them “to a society that is thirsty for blood”.
“The solution to the problems that the country is facing is not cannibalism,” the prosecutor said.
But the court took little time in acquitting the journalist, and observers in the courtroom broke out in applause, according to the AFP news agency.
Greek journalist Costas Vaxevanis is due to go on trial in Athens for breach of privacy after publishing the names of 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts.
French authorities gave the names to their Greek counterparts two years ago, but documents were never investigated.
Costas Vaxevanis said that politicians should be prosecuted for keeping the names secret.
But Greek officials have said there is no proof that those on the list have broken the law.
Some of those named, said to include many prominent Greeks, are suspected of using the HSBC accounts in Switzerland for tax evasion.
Costas Vaxevanis says the list he published is the same one that was given by the then French finance minister Christine Lagarde to her Greek counterpart two years ago.
Greek officials say the list originally came from a former HSBC employee.
The names on the list are said to include politicians, businessmen and others, sparking fury among ordinary Greeks as they are hit by deep austerity measures.
The issue has revived claims that tax evasion remains rife in Greece, and that the authorities still are not serious about tackling it.
Greek journalist Costas Vaxevanis is due to go on trial in Athens for breach of privacy after publishing the names of 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts
Costas Vaxevanis, 46, said he published the list in his magazine Hot Doc “because I’m a journalist and it’s our job to tell the truth to the people”.
“The three last governments have lied and have made a mockery of the Greek people with this list,” he said. “They were obliged to pass it to parliament or to the justice system. They didn’t do it and they should be in prison for it.”
Costas Vaxevanis said he thought the government had not acted on the list because it included friends of ministers, businessmen and powerful publishers.
He also accused much of the Greek media of ignoring the story.
“The Greek press is muzzled,” he said. “There is a closed system of power in Greece, wielded by the political elite, businessmen and journalists.” “If I need to go to prison I will do,” he said. “Not because I’m a hero, but to show the injustice of what is happening in Greece.”