Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Wikimedia Foundation supports Wikipedia user subject to defamation lawsuit in Greece

Wikipedia does not exist in a vacuum. It was built by and continues to grow thanks to real people, who give their time, knowledge, and enthusiasm to a movement that touches the lives of millions around the world. Unfortunately, giving this gift of knowledge is not without risk and often reveals the courage of our community.

Because of his involvement with Wikipedia, Greek Wikipedia user and administrator Diu is a target of legal action by politician and academic Theodore Katsanevas. Mr. Katsanevas complains that the Greek-language Wikipedia article about him contains some unflattering statements. Instead of addressing his concerns with the Greek-language Wikipedia community through the appropriate processes, Mr. Katsanevas chose to file a lawsuit against Diu.

The controversial statements in question reference the will of Andreas Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece and father-in-law of Mr. Katsanevas. The will allegedly characterized Mr. Katsanevas as a “disgrace” to the family and reportedly accused Mr. Katsanevas of “attempting to politically exploit George Papandreou”, also a former Prime Minister of Greece. The statements were properly sourced and in accordance with Wikipedia policies. In fact, the controversy received a great deal of media coverage in Greece.

Diu has apparently been targeted because Mr. Katsanevas seems to believe that the statements were added to the article by Diu and because Diu did not remove the statements after Mr. Katsanevas demanded that he do so. In June 2013, Mr. Katsanevas filed a defamation lawsuit against Diu and The Greek Free / Open Source Software Society (“GFOSS”, also referred to as “ELLAK”), a nonprofit organization in Greece that Mr. Katsanevas mistakenly believed to be the organization running Wikipedia. The case is set to be heard in January 2016.

However, Mr. Katsanevas has now attempted to obtain a preliminary injunction ordering Diu to remove the statements from the Wikipedia article. The hearing is set for March 11, 2014. In the meantime, yesterday the Court issued a pre-preliminary injunction, ordering Diu to provisionally remove the reference to the handwritten will of Andreas Papandreou in the Theodore Katsanevas Greek Wikipedia article, until the March 11th hearing. However, even if the content is removed by Diu, there is no guarantee that the statements will not be republished by other users. The attempt to obtain such an injunction further illustrates Mr. Katsanevas’s apparent fundamental lack of understanding of how Wikipedia works.

The Wikimedia Foundation is deeply disappointed by the unwarranted actions taken by Mr. Katsanevas in this matter. Wikipedia is an open and collaborative project that is committed to uncensored information presented in a neutral point of view and supported by reliable, secondary sources. Diu acted within the scope of these principles and policies — the statements were and still are supported by reputable secondary sources [1] — and the Greek Wikipedia community decided, through discussion, that they were appropriate for the article.

Mr. Katsanevas has ignored these facts and is now using the legal system against those who do not share his financial means and influence. Diu faces serious monetary and criminal penalties as a result of Mr. Katsanevas’s lawsuit. We have offered — and Diu has accepted — assistance through our Legal Fees Assistance Program. Through this program, Diu has obtained independent legal representation with the well-known Lambadarios law firm, who we thank for helping Diu during this difficult time.

We hope that Mr. Katsanevas will reconsider his pursuit of this unconscionable lawsuit, which we see an assault on our users, our projects, and freedom of speech.

Until then, we stand with Diu.

Michelle PaulsonLegal Counsel

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] See sources used in the Theodore Katsanevas Greek Wikipedia article: http://www.tovima.gr/culture/article/?aid=84975, http://www.protagon.gr/?i=protagon.el.8emata&lid=3202, http://www.tovima.gr/relatedarticles/article/?aid=82208&dt=15/09/1996, and http://archiviostorico.corriere.it/1996/settembre/21/Atene_fattore_Mimi_abbatte_sul_co_0_96092113453.shtml

41 Responses to “Wikimedia Foundation supports Wikipedia user subject to defamation lawsuit in Greece”

    1 2
  1. george says:

    your attempt to present katsanebas as a weak creature targeted by elitistic wikipedia is very suspicious. it is very stupid really, unless you are working for him. these people are so corrupt and have no sense of dignity. it is our right and obligation to fight against their fascist mentality. history cannot be changed because katsanebas knows the attorney and can influence the result of a trial in a corrupt system. he can run, but he cannot hide. he and his kind remain a shame(=όνειδος) for greece,and we will continue to insist on this.

  2. panoz says:

    Dear xesemas,

    Arguing with “blah blah” and “etc” isn’t very solid now, is it?
    Then again you’re stating your personal opinion.
    And personal opinions are like…. noses.. Everybody has one.
    You should thank Wikimedia for allowing you to express it freely,
    without the fear of legal action against you for defaming it! Wait a minute..

    therefor, xesemas, xese mas!

  3. Xesemas says:

    At last. Someone is actually doing something against the wikipedia elitism and sense of authority over everybody!
    Wikipedia is hiding behind a childish argument that it is a “free” community and its articles are available for everyone to contribute and blah blah blah.
    wikipedia is none of the above actually and someone should start showing it to them. If a lawsuit is the appropriate action to achieve it, let it be so. At least, someone is taking action against this so called “free” “source” etc.

  4. Alessandro Giorgerini says:

    L’imperativo categorico dell’uomo è essere testimone della verità…per tutta la sua vita.

  5. Matthew Cline says:

    Does Mr. Katsanevas claim that the will of his father-in-law contains no such language? Or is truth not an absolute defense against defamation in Greece?

  6. ZaxosKantadoros says:

    Mr Katsanevas has already gone further. In his blog theodore-katsanevas.blogspot.gr 19-2-2014-5:18 one of his attorneys Giannis Amoiridis cynically states that they are in possession of ALL the names of Wikipedia users and administrators and clearly threatens with “very-very-very heavy consequences” all who “cover, tolerate or advocate” Diu and his actions!!!
    http://theodore-katsanevas.blogspot.gr/2014/02/internet.html?showComment=1392815918712#c4441575509492843915
    I wonder how they claim to have our personal data.
    Isn’t it about time for the wikipedia to start asking questions?

  7. I think that the Wikimedia community should have more discussions about offering the ability to edit to contributors who use Tor privacy services. There are several stories about the persecution of Wikipedia contributors and we as a movement should do our best to create paths to make it safe for people to volunteer with us. There is a proposal for this at

    https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:IdeaLab/Partnership_between_Wikimedia_community_and_Tor_community

    This proposal needs comments and development, and I invite anyone who cares about this case to participate in conversations about Tor support.

  8. Jesper Sommer says:

    No. It doesn’t really belong in the “Controversies” section since that section is intended for information that constitutes differences of opinions. In this case there is no real differences of opinion because the information Mr. Katsanevas wants removed is thoroughly documented. He may personally want to classify this as “controversial”, but once something is documented by reputed sources there is no longer anything controversial about it. It becomes a matter of recorded factual history.

  9. Siyang Qiu says:

    Perhaps this should be placed in the “Controversy” section of Mr. Katsanevas?

  10. hyala says:

    patricia te adoro queria tanto te conhecerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  11. Mark Mandel says:

    The foot of this page says

    4 Responses to “Wikimedia Foundation supports Wikipedia user subject to defamation lawsuit in Greece”

    Pablito Greco says:
    2014/02/15 at 03:29

    I am once again extremely troubled, for the consecutive attempts to silence freedom of speech in Greece. These foolish attempts are unconsciously tarnish the reputation of my country. This must be stopped.

    We, hundreds of millions of people, support Wikipedia.
    Reply

    Leave a Reply

    followed by the form I am now typing into, and no other content. Where are the other three comments?

    I’m a moderately active Wikipedian, but unfamiliar with this site. If the other comments are awaiting moderation, that should be noted, as is usual on other sites I know.

    • Those are trackbacks (which aren’t shown). I know that I’ve tried to get that changed before but it was apparently difficult to do with the current set up… I believe it will no longer be the case in the redesign (from scratch) that is already in progress.

  12. I am once again extremely troubled, for the consecutive attempts to silence freedom of speech in Greece. These foolish attempts are unconsciously tarnish the reputation of my country. This must be stopped.

    We, hundreds of millions of people, support Wikipedia.

Leave a Reply