Greek bank list editor Costas Vaxevanis acquitted

There was applause inside the court building as Mr Vaxevanis was acquitted

A Greek journalist has been acquitted of breaching privacy for publishing the names of 2,000 suspected tax evaders.

Costas Vaxevanis published a list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, including a government minister and other prominent figures in public life.

Lawyers for Mr Vaxevanis, 46, argued that the charges were outrageous and said no-one on the list had actually complained of a breach of privacy.

After a one-day trial, a court in Athens found Mr Vaxevanis innocent.

He published the list in Hot Doc, the weekly magazine that he edits.

The BBC's Mark Lowen in Athens says the swift ruling will be an embarrassment to the Greek government.

'Thirsty for blood'

Greece is being urged by international lenders to crack down on tax evasion as part of far-reaching reforms demanded in exchange for billions of euros of bailout money.

The list of suspected evaders was reportedly leaked by an employee at the HSBC bank and passed to IMF chief Christine Lagarde when she was French finance minister in 2010.

Ms Lagarde apparently handed the list to the Greek authorities, but they took no action.

Two of Greece's former finance ministers have acknowledged seeing copies of the list.

However, Yannis Stournaras, who took office in June, has told parliament he has not seen it.

Mr Vaxevanis said he had published the list because it was his job as a journalist to reveal the truth.

"The three last governments have lied and have made a mockery of the Greek people with this list," he said.

"They were obliged to pass it to parliament or to the justice system. They didn't do it, and they should be in prison for it."

Prosecutors had accused him of publicly ridiculing people and delivering them "to a society that is thirsty for blood".

"The solution to the problems that the country is facing is not cannibalism," the prosecutor said.

But the court took little time in acquitting the journalist, and observers in the courtroom broke out in applause, according to the AFP news agency.

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