Andreas Georgiou, a well-respected economist and statistician, and former president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, continues to be harassed and prosecuted for publishing, by all accounts, an accurate assessment of the Greek budget deficits. He has been tried multiple times, found innocent of the charges, or the charges were thrown out but another charge continued to be filed.
January 16, 2020
Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic
19 Irodou Attikou Street 106 74
Fax: + 30 210 338 5432
Tel: +30 210 671 1000
Dear Prime Minister Mitsotakis,
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern for Andreas Georgiou, a well-respected economist and statistician, and former president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (“ELSTAT”), who has been harassed and prosecuted for publishing what, by all independent accounts, were accurate assessments of Greek budget deficits. In August 2010, Georgiou was appointed president of a newly reorganized national statistics agency. He was a trained economist who was tasked with bringing the country’s official data in line with modern statistical standards. And, he did that. His numbers were repeatedly validated by outside experts. Additionally, the deficit his agency calculated precisely matched the net amount Greece borrowed from capital markets in 2009.
Andreas Georgiou is internationally respected in his field, having worked for two decades at the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) prior to returning to Greece in 2010. We understand that there is deep frustration in Greece because of the state of the economy, but this persistent persecution of Andreas Georgiou is a flagrant abuse of human rights and there is no justification for it. The government has prosecuted, cleared and re-prosecuted him again for causing extraordinary damage to the Greek state and for violation of duty. In one case he was given a two-year suspended prison sentence. And currently two investigations remain open. However, he goes back to court this month for committing slander when he defended his agency’s numbers. “The court said he reported figures that were true but he hurt someone’s feelings.” What this means is that the individual who repaired the incorrect figures will have to apologize to the person who reported inaccurate data.
As the new Prime Minister, you are in a unique position to review this untenable situation and take appropriate action. We write to urge you to end this abusive legal harassment and allow Andreas Georgiou, a skilled and dedicated civil servant, to resume his life and career, unhindered.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Greek Ambassador to the United States of America
Embassy of Greece
2217 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: +1202 9391300
Fax: +1202 9391324
Washington Post Article: “A Number Cruncher Told the Truth. He Became His Country’s Public Enemy No. 1” (by Catherine Rampell, January 2, 2020) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/a-number-cruncher-told-the-truth-he-became-his-countrys-public-enemy-no-1/2020/01/02/06a484c4-2d8e-11ea-bcd4-24597950008f_story.html