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07. 02. 2005


 H.E. Konstantinos Stefanopoulos
President of Greece
Athens , Greece
Fax: +30 210 723 23 42

H.E. Kostas Karamanlis
Prime Minister of Greece
Athens , Greece
Fax: +30 210 671 53 40
Vienna , 7 February 2005

Your Excellencies,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe, and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is alarmed about the recent decision to hand down a prison sentence to a cartoonist.

According to information before SEEMO, Austrian cartoonist Gerhard Haderer was given a six-month suspended prison sentence by a Greek court. The court case against Haderer, who is not a resident of Greece, began when the Greek Orthodox Church filed a complaint after his comic book, “The Life of Jesus”, first appeared in Greece in February 2003. Haderer and his Greek publisher were charged with blasphemy. The court case started in December 2003 and concluded on 18 January 2005.

SEEMO strongly condemns the sentence against Haderer, whose book has been also published in other countries without raising any controversies. The court decision is a clear attack on freedom of expression and is against all international standards. SEEMO urges the Greek authorities to annul the sentence and to accept cartoons as a form of free expression in every democratic society. We also urge the Greek Parliament to revise the existing law, under which Haderer was charged.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic
SEEMO Secretary General

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