Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has called on journalist Andreas Paraschos to show proof or admit he was wrong, after the news editor claimed the commander-in-chief had chosen money from golden passports over chances of a swift resolution to the division of the island.
Anastasiades’ office issued a statement on Thursday, a day after Paraschos resigned his post at Kathimerini Cyprus, calling on the chief editor to “substantiate baseless references in his recent article or admit he was a victim of misinformation.”
Paraschos resigned on Wednesday in the aftermath of a scathing editorial he wrote on Sunday, in which the former chief editor suggested the President was failing on the Cyprus peace reunification talks after realizing “that golden passports were the goose that laid golden eggs.”
The renowned journalist had cited an unnamed source who told him the President in a meeting in Athens had let slip information that he had been flying millions generated from golden passports to the Seychelles on private flights.
A statement on Thursday attributed to the President said the allegations were part of “an orchestrated effort to drag my name through the mud either by hearsay or through fake news publications.”
'Putting up with criticism appears to have been misinterpreted by some who think malicious and fake news could serve the people of this country,' Anastasiades said
The repudiation from the Presidential Palace came after Greece’s former prime minister Alexis Tsipras said he was shocked to see reports in the media that suggested he had a conversation with Anastasiades and that the Cypriot president had told him golden passports were generating 300 million annually at his law firm and that he was flying the money to Seychelles on private planes.
Tsipras, whose name was not implicated in Sunday’s editorial titled “Gone to Hell” but was later brought up by Paraschos in his resignation letter, was one of several unnamed persons in the article who were said to have been present at a dinner in Athens, when Anastasiades was purported to have blabbered on the golden passports.
“I was surprised when I saw stories referring to an alleged conversation I had with the President of the Republic of Cyprus on the issue during my time as prime minister. It is entirely obvious that such comments were never made and such a conversation could never bear any relation to reality,” Tsipras said.
Anastasiades said he had total respect for freedom of the press and freedom of speech, adding that he understood criticism from the media and their representatives came with the job.
“But my putting up with criticism appears to have been misinterpreted by some who think malicious and fake news could serve the people of this country,” Anastasiades added.
On Monday, Kathimerini Cyprus emailed a letter of apology to Anastasiades, saying “it was an error on our part to publish accusations without evidence or sufficient information to corroborate them.”
Paraschos, who said he resigned for professional and ethical reasons that were not unrelated to his concern over the developments in the Cyprus Problem, has refused to provide the name of his source, saying only that the individual was a Greek person based in Athens.