Cypriot attorney Andreas Pittadjis, who was targeted in an Al Jazeera undercover investigation into allegations of corruption over golden passports, took to social media to reiterate his position he did nothing illegal, accusing the foreign network of being dishonest.
“I kept my mouth shut for three months. I allowed those vultures of Al Jazeera to eat my last piece of flesh and my soul,” Pittadjis wrote on Facebook.
The attorney addressed Al Jazeera reporters directly, accusing them of selectively publishing snippets of their secretly-recorded conversation and alleging his comments had been edited to leave out things “I really told you” to go after him with “a fake movie to kill a man who never harmed you.”
Pittadjis made headlines last year over comments he made on tape to undercover AJ reporters a year earlier, suggesting his law firm could assist ineligible foreign investors obtain an EU passport by selecting necessary paperwork and filing an application through Cyprus’ disgraced Citizenship by Investment Programme as well as helping beneficiaries and dependants by using loopholes in the system.
'This IS Cyprus Al Jazeera. And I am not afraid of you. I summon you to the Court of Public Opinion and I dare you to respond'
But the high powered attorney in Paralimni insisted after the video was made public that he was suspicious and played along to fish out information from the reporters, who pretended to represent a Chinese businessman with a criminal record – a fictitious character - but failed to provide details such as a name or an ID during their short stay on the island.
According to Pittadjis, someone recently wrote an article about him, saying his headstone would say he was an honest bloke for 25 years before becoming a lawyer, with the attorney responding “no mate, my tombstone would say fought to the death.”
“I was patient, I bled, I was humiliated, I cried, I was betrayed, I was disgraced, paraded, sidelined, and slapped,” Pittadjis wrote.
The high-profile lawyer then went on to suggest that the reporters were not the only ones recording the conversation.
“But you had no idea, you Turk-loving beasts, that this little lawyer over here from a small town in Cyprus got wind of what you were up to and it wasn’t only you recording,” he said.
Pittadjis argued that his infamous phrase “This is Cyprus” was taken out of context, referring to a legal loophole that reportedly allows citizens to have a new name on a passport unlinked to previously-used names, essentially hiding the original name while traveling overseas.
According to the Al Jazeera video, the reporter had asked Pittadjis “can my client change his name on the new passport, just a little bit?”
“Yes, we can change it a lot of bit, not little,” Pittadjis was heard replying.
“I have a client that his name now is the name half of United States has. But if you check his original name, he cannot even travel with that name. So, we made an affidavit in Cyprus, changed his name, changed his passport. He is travelling now with his new passport, nobody knows,” Pittadjis was also heard saying in the edited video.
“Really, you’ve done this before?” the undercover reporter asked.
“Of course. This is Cyprus,” Pittadjis replied.
But on his Facebook post on Wednesday, the lawyer posted an audio clip of a conversation he had with them in which he is heard explaining there was nothing illegal about the name change.
“After he passes successfully from the whole process, and you get the official decision from the government that ‘yes we’d like you to be one of us’ then you can change the name, as many times as you want,” Pittadjis is heard saying.
“Bear in mind what I am saying, there is nothing illegal,” the attorney is also heard saying in the newly-published audio clip.
“You didn’t show that you were asking in general about the procedure and not specifically about the so-called illegal man,” Pittadjis wrote on Facebook.
Pittadjis then went on to issue a challenge for Al Jazeera, calling on them to send over the actual unedited recordings at his own expense.
“This IS Cyprus Al Jazeera. And I am not afraid of you. I summon you to the Court of Public Opinion and I dare you to respond,” he wrote.
In another post on Thursday morning, Piitadjis wrote another comment raising ethical questions about an AJ reporter, while posting a photo of him along with an image of what appeared to be a part of an SMS exchange.
The attorney asked the journalist about his views on sex trafficking and paid sex, after Pittadjis suggested the reporter had visited a cabaret while in Ayia Napa and that he bragged about having a good time with a woman who worked there.