UNFOLLOW magazine reporter receives threats by man self-identified as oil magnate Dimitris Melissanidis of Aegean Oil, after publishing a report that implicates the company in an oil smuggling scandal.
On January 31st, the latest -14th- issue of UNFOLLOW magazine hit the newsstands all over Greece. Among other reports, we published one on oil smuggling in Greece – specifically the practice of oil carrier companies to buy oil at reduced-tax rates and channel it back into the market at the normal price.
We also published two reports by the 7th Piraeus Customs Authority, with detailed findings on how two major oil companies engaged in this practice. One is ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), where the principal shareholders are the Greek state and Spiros Latsis. The other is Aegean Oil, which is run by Dimitris Melissanidis – albeit without an official position, though his brother, Iakovos, holds a post on the board. Finally, in our report we pointed out that although Aegean Oil officials have been charged with smuggling and forgery, their trial has been postponed four times already, while the state attorneys were absent on all four occasions.
Aegean Oil is truly colossal. Among other things, it supplies the American navy, and one of its associated companies trades in the New York stock exchange. A new trial regarding the smuggling and forgery charges is set for February 12th. Media attention in Greece has been, unsurprisingly, non-existent.
ELPE is set to be fully privatized soon, according to the privatization program imposed on Greece by the troika. The front-runner to acquire state owned shares is Spiros Latsis. At the same time, Dimitris Melissanidis is poised to buy the also soon to be privatized OPAP, the state company that holds a monopoly on gambling.
A full translation of the report on oil smuggling in Greece is forthcoming here on Borderline Reports.
On the day following the publication of UNFOLLOW 14, February 1st, there was a phone call to the office of UNFOLLOW. The number was +30 210 4586000, the caller asked for reporter Lefteris Charalampopoulos, who has written the report, and identified himself as Dimitris Melissanidis.
Our reporter talked to the caller on speaker, with two other UNFOLLOW reporters also present. The man self-identified as Dimitris Melissanidis threatened the magazine with legal action, and our reporter replied that he should of course proceed as he sees fit.
Following that, despite our reporter’s best efforts to converse in a courteous manner, the caller threatened his life repeatedly. Of the 20 minute phonecall, about ten minutes were spent on threats to our reporter.
Part of what was said by the man self-identified as Dimitris Melissanidis, which was taken down by our reporter, follows:
“I could have you killed without having warned you. But I am a man and I’m gonna have you blown up in your sleep. I’ll have you killed, you, your wife, your children, everything you’ve got”.
When our reporter told the caller that he would alert the authorities, he replied:
“Screw you and the authorities. I don’t understand anything, I am Melissanidis. You will not be able to sleep. You will not be able to go out, I’ll be your nightmare. Fear of me will haunt you. They will come to your house and blow you up in your sleep. I am used to talking to big journalists. I looked you up and I will tear you down”.
When our reporter asked if by “big journalists” the caller meant those who play his game, the caller replied:
“I want you to tell me that with a gun to your head”.
An online search for the phone number that called our office returned:
AEGEAN OIL SA (Melissanidis Dimitrios) Oil Industry and Supply – Main Office.
According to phone company listings, the number is also registered with a number of associated companies, such as AEGEAN AGENCY, AEGEAN BUNKERING SERVICES, AEGEAN MARINE PETROLEUM, AEGEAN OIL, and AEGEAN SHIPPING MANAGEMENT – all based at the same address, 10 Akti Kondyli, Pireaus, 18545.
UNFOLLOW magazine issued a Press release last night, where points out the following:
“First, UNFOLLOW will not be shaken off its course.
Second, after the unprecedented threats on our reporter’s life, we declare that for anything that might from now on endanger the life of our reporter, any of our other reporters, or their families, we will hold the caller self-identified as Dimitris Melissanidis responsible.
Third, we call on the authorities to do their duty.
Fourth, we ask for the support of any journalist with a consciense.
Fifth, we call on Press Unions to take a public position on the event, and do what is necessary, so that journalism in Greece is not stifled.”