A Greek journalist who published the names of more than 2,000 of his compatriots who held Swiss bank accounts was acquitted on Thursday in a case that touched a nerve over the role of tax evasion in the country’s debt crisis. The trial of Costas Vaxevanis, editor of the weekly Hot Doc magazine, had aroused international concern and intense interest among Greeks hit by the impact of the country’s economic collapse and angry at the privileges of the elite. He could have faced up to two year years in prison on charges of violating data privacy laws that Vaxevanis said were politically motivated and the result of politicians protecting an “untouchable” wealthy class. His speedy arrest and trial following publication of the “Lagarde List” at the weekend – so named for Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund – touched a nerve in near-bankrupt Greece, where rampant tax evasion is undermining a struggle to cut public costs and raise revenue under an EU/IMF bailout deal. Vaxevanis has said an anonymous source gave him the list of Swiss account holders, which Lagarde handed to authorities in several EU states in 2010 when she was French finance minister. In a trial in which prosecutors said Vaxevanis had “crucified” those on the list, his defense lawyers argued no one had complained their privacy had been violated. Vaxevanis said he had published the names because it was his duty as a journalist and politicians had refused to act.
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