Athens paper promises more naked ambition

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The Independent Online


Athens - A Greek newspaper publisher, locked in a vicious dispute with the Prime Minister's wife, said yesterday he would print more of a set of pictures supposedly showing her naked on a beach in an intimate pose with another woman.

George Kouris, formerly an ardent follower of Andreas Papandreou and his Panhellenic Socialist Movement, has launched a campaign through his daily newspaper, Avriani, against Mr Papandreou's wife, Dimitra Liani, to force her to withdraw from public life.

He caused uproar on Friday by publishing a front-page picture allegedly of Ms Liani. The daily Onoma printed the same picture, but said it did so to show it was fake. The Socialist government and Ms Liani, 40, a former Olympic Airways flight attendant who is now Mr Papandreou's chief of staff, denounced the photograph as a fabrication.

A public prosecutor ordered the arrest of the papers' publishers and editors on charges of "unprovoked insult". Mr Kouris and two others are still at large. By avoiding arrest for more than 48 hours they cannot be tried immediately, and they were expected to surface this week to arrange trial dates.

The publisher of Onoma, Makis Psomiadis, was arrested, tried and sentenced on Saturday to 16 months in jail; under Greek law he can pay a fine instead of serving his sentence.

Such uproar is not new to Ms Liani, who emerged from obscurity seven years ago when Mr Papandreou flaunted their affair. They divorced their spouses and married shortly after he lost the 1989 election.

She was tolerated during Mr Papandreou's years in opposition but gained instant enemies when he returned to power in 1993. Her powers as director of his private office and her obvious ambition to run for parliament have enraged many Socialists, who see her as a political upstart.