In a move that sent shock waves through the Greek political world, Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the left-wing Synaspismos party has been sued for over 1 million euros for defamation by the Marfin Investment Group (MIG) over his criticism of the company's role in the sale of its 2.5 billion euro stake in the Greek state run telecommunication OTE to Deutsche Telekom. In addition the Greek TV channel, Star is being sued for 150 million euros over claims that MIG's funds had come via the Albanian mafia.
Tsipras, who was recently elected the president of Synapismos, has repeatedly called the controversial OTE deal a "fraud" and along with other opposition leaders has tried to block the sell of OTE to the German telecoms giant. In statement posted on the party's website Tsipras called the suit an "unprecedented attempt at penalising political life."
The other major Greek parties have been swift to condemn the action by Marfin. Government spokesman, Evangelos Antonaros, stated that the government disagreed with any attempt to sue any political leader for exercising their right to criticise. In addition PASOK party secretary, Giannis Ragousis, speaking to Alpha Radio said that the legal action was "unthinkable and unprecedented", adding that is was the duty and not just the right of political partys and leaders to engage in criticism and debate on public matters.
Andreas Vgenopoulos, vice-president of the Marfin Investment Group, claimed in a press conference that that the company had been the victim of a slur campaign organised by politicians, trade unionists and elements of the media. The lawsuit, he added, was needed to restore the honour and dignity of the MIG Group's 52,000 employees.