A renowned journalist and editor-in-chief at Kathimerini Cyprus has resigned his post amid backlash from a piece he wrote on Sunday, where he claimed Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades let slip information that he had been flying millions generated from golden passports to the Seychelles on private flights.
(Click here for an update to the story)
Social media have been buzzing for days over an editorial piece Andreas Paraschos wrote in the weekly’s paper edition on Sunday titled “Gone to Hell” (paraphrasing a famous off-the-cuff remark by the president), where he criticized people in positions of power in Cyprus, with online users also commenting on a clarification statement that later appeared online.
In his original piece, Paraschos argued politicians were “spitting in the face of democracy” without suffering consequences, pointing to the scandal over golden passports but also raising questions over a judge’s decision to sign off on a recent search warrant in connection with a Twitter parody account.
The top editor also took jabs at President Anastasiades and newly-appointed Chief Justice Persephone Panagi, noting their silence on current affairs relating to the executive and judicial branches of government.
'Another mistake of mine was avoiding to specify that all those things had been said in the presence of then-prime minister Alexis Tsipras but also others,' Paraschos later revealed
Paraschos then focused on the President, saying Anastasiades had told him in person that he was exploring a two-state solution to the Cyprus Problem since 2017 as well as seeking the approval of the European Union and Cyprus’ Archbishop Chrysostomos.
He then went on to argue that Anastasiades “realized that golden passports were the goose that laid golden eggs,” adding that during a night of joy in Athens, the President let slip that his former law firm was making 300 million annually, “which he would then fly to the Seychelles on private flights.”
“This is why he stayed clear of Varosha and Morphou in Mont Peleran as well as a solution at Crans Montana,” Paraschos wrote, adding “but all of a sudden, Al Jazeera blew the lid off and the king was naked.”
Kathimerini Cyprus issued a statement on Wednesday saying they were “particularly saddened for having to accept the resignation,” while also responding to a number of claims made by Paraschos in his letter that he had made public.
“After the story, both the publisher and the newspaper’s legal advisor asked Mr Paraschos whether he had proof for the serious allegations against the President,” a Kathimerini statement said, adding that the editor’s response was that he did not have proof but “someone had told him so.”
The following day, Kathimerini sent a letter of apology to President Anastasiades, saying “it was an error on our part to publish accusations without evidence or sufficient information to corroborate them.”
In his resignation letter, Paraschos scorned the publisher for not supporting what he described as something of utmost importance to the survival of Cyprus and instead asking him to apologize to the President for the statement over golden passports.
Kathimerini says claim was unsubstantiated
Kathimerini Cyprus, which is owned by a media group that also owns Knews, said Paraschos “had been told, both verbally and in writing, that the newspaper’s management would back him fully in publishing the allegation if he had sufficient evidence.”
After Paraschos refused to apologize, Kathimerini distanced itself from the story, following consultations with their legal advisors.
“It is not ethically right to relay [allegations] to Kathimerini without corroboration,” the publishers said.
But in his letter Paraschos said he made a mistake by using the word “annually” when he referred to money allegedly flown to the Seychelles, while also saying he was wrong not to clarify in the story that others had been present in the Athens meeting in question, including Greece’s former prime minister Alexis Tsipras.
“Another mistake of mine was avoiding to specify that all those things had been said in the presence of then-prime minister Alexis Tsipras but also others,” Paraschos revealed.
“In fact, it was also said that by the end of the second [presidential] term, the turnover would reach one billion. Politicians in Cyprus also know about this incident,” Kathimerini’s former chief editor claimed.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, sources with Tsipras’ SYRIZA party refuted the allegations on Wednesday.
“The unsubstantiated references in today’s letter of resignation by the managing director of Kathimerini Cyprus, Mr Paraschos, over the so-called confiding by the President of the Republic of Cyprus to Greece’s prime minister at the time, let alone in the presence of many others, regarding approvals of passports, are unworthy of comment and obviously have no connection with reality,” a SYRIZA source said according to CNA.
Kathimerini said they wished Paraschos all the best going forward, adding that the former chief editor had been with the newspaper for years and the latest incident wound not undo his previous work at the paper.
“Serving the truth for the good of the homeland remains a top value,” Kathimerini said, adding that the newspaper has a track record of making revelations and criticizing those in power.
“But in a world filled with fake news, we are required to have proof as a newspaper before revealing scandals and not just hearsay,” Kathimerini stated.
Paraschos, who cited both ethical and professional reasons for stepping down, is scheduled to appear on the Greek-language podcast Legal Matters on Thursday evening, where both the mission and purview of journalism will be the main topic.