Yesterday, Greece's Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) distributed a news story to national and international media concerning the alleged actions of two New York-based Greek journalists who represent Alpha TV and Star Channel of Greece in New York as foreign correspondents credentialed by the Foreign Press Center of the State Department. According to Greek media, the two journalists are Mr. Thanos Dimadis and Mr. Dimitris Soultogiannis.
AMNA's story alleged that the two journalists were arrested by the New York Police Department and that they face criminal charges for falsely identifying themselves to law enforcement. The report further claimed the two journalists forged the signature of a member of the Greek delegation after paying for a meal at the Westin New York Grand Central Hotel. The reporters were only temporarily released, according to the report. AMNA quoted a statement from Mr. Nikos Pappas, the country’s Minister of Information, attesting to the accuracy of the state news agency’s report.
But according to Ethikos Kirikas, the Greek-American community, and Hellenic diaspora’s most prominent daily Greek language publication, the report from the state news agency is not only inaccurate but downright false. Second Nexus editor Alan Jude Ryland, who was present in the Westin New York Grand Central on Saturday, September 17, condemned the “completely inaccurate and distorted information disseminated by Greece's state news agency." NYPD spokesman George Tsourovakas, upon being contacted by Second Nexus, affirmed that neither Dimadis nor Soultogiannis were arrested, detained, or temporarily released from NYPD custody.
The NYPD further stressed that Dimadis and Soultogiannis were never accused of engaging in illegal activity during their reporting. According to the information obtained by Second Nexus, on September 19, the Minister of Information’s delegation and Greek Prime Minister requested that the NYPD arrest the two reporters because they were “going after” the Minister during his personal visit to New York. Law enforcement declined to arrest them, citing First Amendment rights that protect freedom of the press, said an NYPD official. Second Nexus also contacted the FBI’s press office and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service: Both agencies said the journalists had not been arrested or accused of illegal activity. Nor is there a police report that would confirm any of the Greek media’s claims.
The story was dealt a further blow by the Westin New York Grand Central’s management team, who, upon speaking with Second Nexus, denied allegations that Mr. Dimadis and Mr. Soultogiannis were undercover inside the hotel on Saturday or that they forged a signature. They further informed Second Nexus that Mr. Pappas and his delegation demanded that management deny Dimadis and Soultogiannis entrance to the hotel.
Yesterday night, a few hours after AMNA's report was released, Second Nexus contacted Mr. Soultogiannis and asked for his position. Soultogiannis unequivocally stated that he was never arrested and said he was not present when his colleague ordered two beers at the hotel bar. He said that any statements from him would have to be discussed and approved by his employer, the Star Channel. Mr. Dimadis, for his part, said he is proud of his undercover reporting and confirmed that he’d been deliberately tracking Pappas and his delegation. He denied all allegations and informed Second Nexus of his intention to file defamation lawsuits against the Greek media and the Minister of Information.