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We are happy to report that a member of our community, Greek Wikipedia user and administrator Diu, has won a critical hearing in an ongoing defamation suit brought by Greek politician and academic Theodore Katsanevas.

On 29 August 2014, the Court of the First Instance of Athens denied the preliminary injunction requested by Mr. Katsanevas. The preliminary injunction would have required Diu, along with co-defendant Greek Free / Open Source Software Society (“ELLAK”), to provisionally remove statements from the Greek language Wikipedia article about Mr. Katsanevas.[1]

The Wikipedia content in dispute involves what was written in the first will[2] of the late Andreas Papandreou, former father-in-law of Mr. Katsanevas and former Prime Minister of Greece. In the will, as reported by the court, Mr. Papandreou characterized Mr. Katsanevas as a “disgrace to the Papandreou family” with aims to “politically inherit the history of struggle of Georgios Papandreou and Andreas Papandreou.”

The court declared that the content appearing in the Wikipedia article did not differ from the content of the will and that the formulation of the article did not indicate an intent to disparage the reputation or honor of Mr. Katsanevas. Additionally, the court noted that the Wikipedia article provided the full context about the statements to which Mr. Katsanevas objected, that the article did not contain any additional commentary or pejorative expressions, and that the form of words used in the article was not immoderate.

Dismissing the petition against both Diu and ELLAK, the court found that Mr. Katsanevas was “not in need of provisional judicial protection from the [Wikipedia article] in question, which, for the reasons set out above, is not illegal.”

Unfortunately, this ordeal is not yet over for Diu and ELLAK. The trial for the underlying dispute is set to begin on 21 January 2015. As this case progresses, the Wikimedia Foundation will continue to support Diu through our Legal Fees Assistance Program.

In light of this ruling, we encourage Mr. Katsanevas to withdraw this baseless lawsuit and discontinue his attempts to censor Wikipedia and its users.

Michelle Paulson, Legal Counsel*

* We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the Lambadarios law firm, particularly Chara Daouti, for their tireless defense of Diu.

  1. In his petition, Mr. Katsanevas also requested that ELLAK be fined and that Diu be held in custody for each day of refusal to comply with the preliminary injunction (if it were to be issued) as well as reimbursement of his legal costs.
  2. As the court explained, there was a second will, which had been decreed the “main” will and did not refer to Mr. Katsanevas. However, the court clarified that the existence of the second will does not revoke the first to the extent that the two wills do not contradict or cancel the other out. Because the second will did not contradict the statements about Mr. Katsanevas that appeared in the first, the existence of the second will – the court reasoned – did not revoke the statements made about Mr. Katsanevas in the first will.