Defamation Laws In Greece

The Greek Penal Code makes libel a criminal offense. Actions on libel attacking: a) a Foreign State which is at peace with the Greek State; and b) the President of the Republic shall prescribe in six (6) months.

Insult is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding one year and/or with a pecuniary penalty (from GDR 50,000 to GDR 5 million, as defined in Art. 57 of the Penal Code, PC) (PC, Art. 361, Paragraph 1). Unprovoked insult is punishable by imprisonment of at least three months (PC, Art. 361A, Paragraph 1).

Defamation is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding two months and/or with a pecuniary penalty. Aggravated defamation is punishable by imprisonment of at least three months (PC, Art. 363), to which a pecuniary penalty can be added. The offender can also be punished with deprivation of his/her civil rights. Defamation of a corporation is punishable by imprisonment up to one year or with a pecuniary penalty (PC, Art. 364, Paragraph 1), while aggravated defamation of a corporation is necessarily punished by imprisonment (PC, Art. 364, Paragraph 2).

The cases are always initiated following the private complaint of an injured person (PC, Art. 68, Paragraph 1).
The law provides for more severe sentences in cases of libel and defamation of public officials than of ordinary citizens. Libel and defamation of the President of the Republic and to the Parliament are punishable by imprisonment of not less than three months (PC, Art. 157, Paragraph 3; PC, Art. 168, Paragraph 2). Insult to board councils of the county, municipal or community councils is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years (PC, Art. 157, Paragraph 3). Attacks against the honour of a Head of a foreign state are punishable by imprisonment (PC, Art. 153, Paragraph 1b).

Journalists can invoke good faith and public interest in their defense against charges of insult or defamation. According to the Penal Code, if defamation is based on true information that affects the public interest, defamation is not punished (PC, Art. 366, Paragraph 1), although punishment for insult is not excluded, if the intent to insult has been proven beyond reasonable doubt (PC, Art. 366, Paragraph 3).

Libel and defamation can also be dealt with in the Civil Code. Under Article 920 (“Defamatory rumors”), one who intentionally disseminates lies that can hurt someone else is liable to fines. In addition, Article 57 (“Right to personality”) provides that one whose personality is offended has the right to ask for the offense to be withdrawn, as well as for the promise that this would not be repeated in the future. Under Article 59 (“Satisfaction for moral abuse”), the court, upon request of the plaintiff, can also impose compensation or order the publication of the revocation of the offense. The obligation to compensate is also provided under Article 919 (“Offence to morals”) and Article 932 (“Satisfaction for moral abuse” for an unjustified act).