The fact that Greece uses mass SLAPP lawsuits (strategic lawsuits against public participation) against journalists and media should be a topic of discussion at the European level and serve as a wake-up call. It is a clear indicator of problems with the workings of the Rule of Law in the country.

And that’s because the international experience shows us what these practices seek, which is nothing less than silencing journalists and the media and, ultimately, weakening public transparency to the point where entire areas of economic and political life are shielded from public scrutiny and criticism and ultimately enjoy a peculiar immunity.

In fact, what we see in these practices is a reversal of the role the institutional framework plays in protecting the individual against defamation. Thus, rather than protecting the citizen against the weaponization of public exposure based on inaccurate or distorted data and the inequality inherent in the relationship between the individual and powerful media groups, we have the exact opposite: the unequal relationship between journalists and those that can afford lengthy legal proceedings and the costs they entail—costs which ultimately lead the former to stop reporting on issues the latter want to suppress.

All of this poses a real danger to the media’s institutional function. Democracy cannot be limited purely to the electoral process, and it presupposes more than allowing political ideas to freely circulate. No, democracy is underpinned by the possibility of the routes taken by power in all its forms to be revealed at any time, by our being able to shine a light on arbitrariness, and the many ways in which the public interest can be undermined. So what is actually at stake today is whether and to what extent public scrutiny and transparency can continue to institutionally empower the weak against the strong.