Greek fact-checkers triumph after 5-year legal battle with Physics association

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In a landmark victory for journalistic integrity and freedom of speech, Ellinika Hoaxes has been totally exonerated following five years of legal battle with the Greece’s most established physics society, the Association of Greek Physicists (AGP).

The AGP is a non-profit scientific association established in 1930 in Greece.

The disagreement started in 2019 when Ellinika Hoaxes – a Greece-based fact-checking organization – published investigative pieces that exposed erroneous claims made by the AGP. These claims included the endorsement of a so-called “free energy” device and the propagation of pseudo-scientific notions regarding Greek DNA.

The articles provoked outrage in the scientific community, resulting in multiple resignations from the Association of Greek Physicists board and public criticism from other research groups.

 

On January 8, 2019, Ellinika Hoaxes published an article entitled “Petros Zografos and the fraud of the production of electricity from water” where it analyzed and documented the claims of the “inventor” Petros Zografos who asserted to have built a machine – a water electrolysis reactor with high frequency combination – which is allegedly able to generate large amounts of electricity using water. Despite making appearances on television shows and participating in so-called scientific conferences, Mr. Zografos, backed by the Association of Greek Physicists, failed to provide conclusive evidence in a controlled environment proving the functionality of his generator.

 

On February 12, 2019, Ellinika Hoaxes‘ second investigative piece titled “The Promotion of Pseudoscientific Mysticism by the Association of Greek Physicists” was published. The article delved into instances where a board member advocated claims about the DNA of Greeks, suggesting that it preserves its superior traits through miscegenation.

Both the president and vice president of the board of directors endorsed activities and educational sessions that lack a scientific basis, instead being rooted in concepts such as chakra and quantum healing.

 

Five years of legal battles

The Association of Greek Physicists responded by filing a $700,000 lawsuit against Ellinika Hoaxes, over allegations of defamation, moral damage, and unauthorized processing of personal data.

Despite enduring immense pressure, Ellinika Hoaxes remained resolute. They used the Media Legal Defence Initiative’s legal aid to defend their journalistic practices and the critical role fact-checking plays in countering disinformation.

After a lengthy legal battle, the lawsuit was dismissed by the Athens First Instance Court in 2020, and The Greek Physicists Association filed an appeal against the judgement.

Finally, in July 2023, the Court of Appeals of Athens issued a final verdict, affirming the lower court’s decision and totally exonerating Ellinika Hoaxes. The court specifically recognized their right to free expression and respect for ethical journalistic norms, stating that the Association of Greek Physicists’ arguments were unfounded and intended to suppress genuine criticism.

“We believe that this conclusive judicial ruling stands as a crucial safeguard for press freedom, promoting purposeful criticism irrespective of the status or qualities of individuals or entities involved, and also serves to protect the impactful and challenging work carried out by fact-checkers,” said Ellinika Hoaxes in a statement released on January 26, 2024.

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Amala is a tactical Fact-Checker, who is passionate about using Fact-checking to curb the spread of Misinformation and Disinformation which has become prevalent in the media space. She can be reached on X at muonweblessing and LinkedIn on Amala Blessing Muonwe

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