Greece raids pirate broadcasters of former state radio ERT

Greek riot police raided the headquarters of the country’s former state broadcaster, ERT, on Thursday, forcibly removing dozens of staff members who had been occupying the building since June when the authorities abruptly shut down the organization, citing wasteful spending.
Officers entered the premises north of Athens shortly after 4 a.m. and removed around 50 former employees, four of whom were briefly detained for questioning, according to a police spokesman who said the raid “went smoothly.” Officers fired tear gas to disperse some 200 protesters who had gathered outside the building but demonstrators regrouped after the police’s departure and continued their protest.
Excessive spending at ERT was the chief reason given by the authorities in June when they pulled the plug on the broadcaster, laying off more than 2,600 workers and prompting a political crisis that nearly brought down the government. Since then, defiant workers have been occupying ERT’s headquarters, airing a pirate broadcast via the Internet.
In a message broadcast online, ERT workers called on supporters to rally outside the broadcaster’s headquarters. “The battle for democracy and social justice which ERT workers have been fighting for more than four months, has reached its most crucial moment,” the message said. “It’s time to act.”
The raid also prompted an angry response from the Greek political opposition, with around 10 members of Parliament from the leftist party Syriza, which opposes the terms of Greece’s foreign bailouts, rushing to the scene when news of the raid broke. Speaking outside the headquarters, Zoe Konstantopoulou, a prominent Syriza legislator, accused the government of “reaching the point of delirium” and “staging a coup against itself.”

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