A Greek journalist who published the names of more than 2,000 fellow citizens who keep their money in Swiss bank accounts has been acquitted of violating privacy laws.
Human rights groups like Amnesty International campaigned to free Costas Vaxevanis, editor of Hot Doc magazine, who could have faced up to two year years in prison, according to Reuters.
Vaxevanis had repeatedly insisted the charge was politically motivated said were politically motivated.
He told reporters outside the courtroom: "This ruling is not only right, but it frees journalism. Journalists in Greece have been held hostage for a very long time" the curly-haired unshaven editor said after the verdict.
"This ruling gives our colleagues the possibility to do their jobs without handcuffs."
Marek Marczyński, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International, said in a press statement: "Costas Vaxevanis should not have been put on trial in the first place. He was acting in the public interest and doing his job as a journalist.
"The right to privacy should not be used to silence criticism of the government.
“The acquittal of Vaxevanis confirms that journalists can raise issues of public interest without fear of prosecution.”
The magazine published names of some 2,000 Greeks alleged to have HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland and calling for investigations into possible tax evasion.
The list, which allegedly contains the names of prominent people in Greece who are suspected of using the accounts to evade taxes, has sparked fierce political debate in the country as it struggles with the imposition of severe austerity measures.