Advocacy Update: Greek Supreme Court Sets 2023 Hearing for Georgiou Slander Case
November, 2021—Andreas Georgiou, Greece’s chief statistician from 2010 to 2015, learned this fall the Greek Supreme Court will consider his request to annul an appeals court decision that found him liable for slander in January 2023.
After an October hearing, the Supreme Court also granted Georgiou an injunction, stopping the enforcement of slander penalties until the 2023 hearing date. Georgiou sought the injunction following the July 2021 action of the plaintiff—the director of the national accounts division of the Greek statistics office from 2006 to 2010—to demand immediate payment of the €18,000 award (with interest) in damages and immediate publication of a public apology from Georgiou. The injunction also stops the €200 a day penalty for not publishing the apology, which effectively amounts to a confession of guilt. As Georgiou has refused to comply, this action put his assets in Greece, including his mother’s home, at risk of being seized.
The most recent appeals court decision found Georgiou had engaged in “simple slander” that damaged the reputation of the plaintiff in 2014, when he made true statements in defense of ELSTAT’s (the national statistical service of Greece) revised government deficit and debt data for 2006–2009. The revised statistics Georgiou defended had already been validated by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, eight times and continue to be validated.
The latest developments coincide with the 10-year mark from when the investigations and legal proceedings against Georgiou began, despite continued outcries from the international community.
In August, the International Science Council’s Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science (CFRS) issued a public statement noting, “The ongoing and repeated harassment of Dr. Georgiou as a result of professionally conducting his role at ELSTAT, in line with recognized best practice, is a clear violation of the ISC’s principle of Freedom and Responsibility in Science. …
These charges are part of a sustained, politically motivated backlash against Dr. Georgiou, and threaten the values of scientific freedom and responsibility in Greece and across the European Union.”
In October, ASA President-elect Katherine Ensor joined with leaders of the International Statistical Institute and Royal Statistical Society to write Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, calling “for an end to the now 10-year persecution of Andreas Georgiou and his full exoneration.” This call reiterates a longtime position of the ASA Board of Directors, most recently affirmed at its August 2021 meeting.
For background on this case, see this May 2021 Amstat News article, “ASA, International Community Continue to Decry Georgiou Persecution.”