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This article was published on October 31, 2012

Anonymous’ Greek Finance Ministry hack and the clampdown on information freedom

Anonymous’ Greek Finance Ministry hack and the clampdown on information freedom
Jamillah Knowles
Story by

Jamillah Knowles

Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemi Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemimah_knight or drop a line to [email protected]

The activist group Anonymous has hacked the Greek Ministry of Finance and released documents as the government heads toward its vote on further cuts to ensure another loan.

The economy in Europe is in no great state and Greece in particular has seen painful moves to try and drag the country out of crisis. Just today the Telegraph reported that Greece’s debt to GDP will hit 189.1pc and the economy is expected to contract by 4.5pc next year. The BBC recently pointed out that the country’s level of unemployment hit 25% in July with over 1,000 jobs lost every day over the past year.

It’s no wonder people are tired and angry with the situation and that parts of organisations like Anonymous are taking action to find information.

In it’s signature style of writing Anonymous posted the hacked files on pastebin with the following message.

Greetings citizens of the world
Greetings citizens of Greece
We are anonymous.

The Greek government is prepared to testify to a vote in the Greek Parliament the new package of economic austerity measures of 13.5 billion euros which are expected to prolong the recession in Greece.

Under the austerity measures, pensioners have seen a 60 percent fall in their pensions – meaning their life savings are now less than half what they expected.

Meanwhile, the government is considering more cuts, raising the retirement age and putting a cap on free healthcare provision of just €1,500 per person per year.

Greece used to have one of the lowest suicide rates in the EU but since 2010, the number of people taking their own lives has increased by 40 percent, with a large proportion from the older generation.

Sixty-eight percent of Greece’s population living below the at-risk-of poverty rate (ie, having an income below 60 percent of the national median) were spending over 40 percent of their income on rent or mortgage payments.

More than 439,000 underage children are living below poverty level in Greece due to the ongoing crisis, according to a UNICEF report released on Oct. 16 on the occasion of the World Feed Day 2012 and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The popularity of far right parties, including the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, has risen in tandem.

Your goverment failed you.


Whether or not people agree with the actions of Anonymous in collecting their information. The move to hack a ministry is an extreme one, possibly borne out of the fact that Greece has been muzzling its media.

Some may argue that this is a move to calm an already hectic situation, but more often than not, an informed public is able to make its own mind up rather than rallying in ignorance and anger.

Today reports have shown that another journalist was arrested in relation to the Anonymous hack.

TV reporter Spiros Karatzaferis said that he had information from Anonymous about the Greek deficit that he would present on his show on October 31. However, he was arrested apparently not for possessing the information but for an unrelated case.

According to the Greek Reporter website, Karatzaferis said he had been detained on an old warrant for a case in which he had accused judges of organising outside of the government.

Index on Censorship has published an excellent and in-depth report on the lack of freedom of the press in Greece at the moment. Multiple arrests, accusations of torture and the cancellation of TV shows covering these issues do not make for happy reading.

Costas Vaxevanis, editor of the “Hot Doc” magazine, was arrested just this weekend after publishing the ‘Lagarde List’, a document that French Authorities handed over to Athens so that account holders could be investigated for tax evasion.

Writing in the Guardian this week, Vaxenvanis said “Greece gave birth to democracy. Now it has been cast out by a powerful elite.”

That said, if Anonymous takes further action following its hack, it could mean the elite will have to look out for a more powerful distributed network.

Image Credit: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images