Upside Down: An update on the Dirty Works Greece media charade

A few days ago I wrote about the arrest of Greek artists Dimitris Fotiou (see post here). He created a funny website, for a fictitious company name Dirty Works Greece (DWG), satirizing the Greek alleged (I don’t want to be arrested as well) common practice of politicians doing favors (or getting paid for it) for their voters: The most common ones are finding them work in the civil service and transferring their children from one university to another – which is notoriously difficult in Greece.

Mr. Fotiou was arrested and charged with Fraud – even though the data any visitor could submit on his website, in order to pay for the company’s services, where never sent anywhere.

Mr. Fotiou was released on a 3.000 Euros bail, awaiting trial (which under normal circumstances it takes at least 3 years in Greece).

I was vexed with the hasty and sloppy job that the Greek media did in reporting this story. Mr. Fotiou was mentioned as the “perpatrator”, the “fraudster” or the “criminal”. Words like that are indicative of the fact that the Greek Media decided to put Mr. Fotiou through their own little trial, judge him and find him guilty.

What was more shocking – and I neglected to mention in the previous post– is that the police actually have an Electronic Crime Force. I am amazed that the officers in that force did not take a quick glance in the website’s code before arresting the man. I don’t even want to think that they did, because if they did, what does that say of their credentials? Even worst, what does that say about REAL electronic crime in Greece?

Some days later the media retracted and their triumphant praise of the arrest started to dwindle, replaced by questions as to the existence of the fraud. We went from “Fraudster caught” to “Art or Fraud?” and finally to “The Greek Police mucked up” sort of articles. Most of them mentioned the outrage that took over the Greek Blogosphere and I’d like to believe that the blog posts explaining the DWG concept and expressing outrage at Mr. Fotiou’s arrest had something to do with the media’s second take on the matter.

I can’t help but wonder. Are blogs suddenly becoming a new sort of checking mechanism? The Guardian has a fantastic article on the matter of this New Media power.

Nevertheless the fact remains that nothing is being done by the relevant authorities in Greece to criticize or even mention the criminal exaggerations and outright lies that where printed and broadcasted in the Greek media about this case.

The author of this blog considered it an ethical responsibility to notify the following foreign media for this story: The Register, Wired, The Guardian (Online and Media) and Index on Censorship.

I understand the pressures of an editorial environment – as I have mentioned before I used to work in one my self. And I understand that sometimes lack of resources and man power mean that instead of a real article a press release will be published/broadcasted. But when this press release smears one’s reputation it is unforgivable, unethical and (surely) criminal. I wish Mr. Fotiou will sue for damages. I will certainly support him – as most of the Greek bloggers will.


On other news this blog suddently saw an upsurge of interest. The source is this, an article in the Greek portal in.gr. It basically says that the Greek Internet community was outraged at the arrest of Dimitris Fotiou and provides some links. It also has a link to Academia Nervosa like so:

What is written in the international blogs: digital-era

The link obviously points to an Academia Nervosa post, digital-era is my Greek language blog and my personal website. I notified them of the mistake through their feedback form. Even though I am grateful for the link (and for my newly elevated status as an “international blog”) I wonder how much time it will take to correct the mistake.
UPDATE 18/02/05 22:50 -
The link at the in.gr article was corrected. And I stand corrected. That was quick.

3 comments to Upside Down: An update on the Dirty Works Greece media charade

  • What I find particularly funny about this story is that:
    a) The site is so OBVIOUSLY a joke.
    b) The police’s hi-tech crime force discovered this site about 5 days after it had been widely circulated by email (as a joke, of course). Personally I received emails pointing to it from at least 2 “independent” sources. So not only did they not get the joke, but they thought that this will be their chance to do something important and increase their visibility, and went and arrested the guy!
    c) I heard on more than one news channels that the site had already attracted “tens of thousands of victims”! This is obviously ridiculous, but my guess is that they accessed this guys site statistics through its ISP, and probably saw hits in the order of tens of thousands (which is reasonable since the site was up for several months and it received a lot of publicity), so they decided that anyone who happened to stumble over this site can be automatically labelled as a victim. Personally I visited the site a couple of times, so I guess that I am a victim as well (or maybe more than one victim, depending on how they count the hits).

  • [...] On a personal note I believe Antonis – not least because a similar ‘misunderstanding’ has happened between an artist with an internet project and the Greek Police. [see details here and here] [...]

  • [...] On a personal note I believe Antonis – not least because a similar ‘misunderstanding’ has happened between an artist with an internet project and the Greek Police. [see details here and here] [...]

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