A Greek journalist known for his crime reporting was shot dead outside his Athens home Friday, police said.
Giorgos Karaivaz, who worked for the privately owned broadcaster STAR TV, was known for his coverage of law and order and police stories.
Two unidentified people on a motorcycle fired multiple rounds at Karaivaz Friday afternoon near his home in Alimos, in the south of Athens, police said.
Witnesses said the journalist was shot as he got out of his car. The journalist was returning from the studio where he works on Star TV, according to the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a group that documents attacks on the press across Europe.
Authorities are currently working to establish the motive behind the attack and whether it was related to Karaivaz’s journalistic work.
Early reports suggested the gunman used a silencer on his weapon, MFRR reported.
Karaivaz was a contributor to the Eleftheros Typos newspaper, and he founded the news website bloko.gr, which reported on crime.
Police were cited in local reports saying he had not reported any recent threats or asked for police protection.
The MFRR said it was “horrified” by the shooting, which “appears to bear all the signs of a targeted assassination.”
“Regardless of the motive, the killing of Giorgos (George) Karaivaz is a tragic event for the journalistic community in Greece and a dark day for media freedom in the European Union,” the MFRR said in a statement.
Police said Friday the killing was carefully planned. "It was a professional hit," a police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make statements to the media, told Reuters.
Media rights groups called on authorities to conduct thorough investigations to determine if journalism was a motive.
"Authorities must determine whether Karaivaz was targeted for his work, and should do everything possible to find the killers and bring them to justice," Carlos Martinez de la Serna, program director at the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement.
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also reacted to the killing Friday, saying "a new assassination of a journalist on European soil can have a considerable impact."
If the motive is confirmed as being related to Karaivaz’s journalism, it would be the first assassination of a journalist in the European Union since the 2018 murder of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak in Slovakia, the MFRR said.
Fatal attacks on journalists are rare in Greece. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded only one killing in the country. The investigative reporter Sokratis Giolias was shot dead near his apartment in Athens in July 2010. No one has been prosecuted for the killing, according to CPJ.
Some information in this report came from Reuters.