Cyprus Mail

Audit office says will file police complaint after newspaper publishes his private communications

Coffeeshop Despite His God Like Qualities, Odysseas Still Has Feelings And Is Liable To Show Small Signs Of Human Weakness
Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said on Wednesday he would file a complaint with police “as a matter of principle” over the publication in Phileleftheros of recent private communications between him and, Myrna Pattichis, the wife of the publisher.

“Ms Pattichi, with whom I had exchanged this private communication, could well, before it was made public, ask for my approval but she did not do so,” Michaelides said in an announcement. “Reasons of principle require me to make a relevant complaint to the police since I do not intend to contribute with my own inaction to the abolition of the legal protection of private communication that touches on fundamental human rights.”

Phileleftheros said the responses sent by Michaelides to Pattichis who had complained to him about online abuse against her and another woman on a Facebook group set up to support the auditor-general, were rude, unacceptable and arrogant.

When she wrote to him asking him if he was not ashamed that the online abuse was being carried out in his name, he responded: “I haven’t done anything in my life to be ashamed of. That’s why I’m returning your unacceptable message. Shame on you!” Pattichis had been expecting him to ask the group to take down the abusive posts or at least apologise.

Michaelides’ statement on Wednesday said the matter was connected to Pattichis’ status as a member of the board of directors of the English School.

He said about a year ago, she had contacted him about a Facebook page under the name ‘auditor-general support group’ where there were negative comments posted against her and another woman, also a member of the English School board.

The page is run by supporters of Michaelides and had posted abusive comments against the two women because they were members of the English School board, which had taken disciplinary measure against three teachers. The teachers were sacked for disciplinary offences in July.

“From time to time she would come back whenever there was something negative against her,” Michaelides said in Wednesday’s statement.

“I had explained to her from the first moment that the page in question has nothing to do with the audit office and in no case were the posts on there the positions of the office. I also explained to her that there was no way I could intervene in relation to the content of the page since there is no possibility of doing that.”

He said that in support of her, he gave as an example an article in Phileleftheros itself which was critical of him due to some of his positions on the health service Gesy, which “of course could not come down”.

“Obviously I personally strongly condemn the insults against Ms Pattichi. But woe betide me to be considered to have any responsibility for these insults, to be dismissed with the phrase ‘You are not ashamed?’ And then to be asked to apologise. And now the newspaper is insulting me as ‘complicit and arrogant’ because I simply responded to the publisher’s wife with her own word: ‘Shame.’”

The auditor-general referred to the laws on communications and privacy, citing a provision that says: “Any person who intentionally allows any other person to gain access to the content of any private communication, is guilty of an offence and in case of conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding ten 10 years or to a fine that does not exceeds €100,000, unless the prior express approval has been given, both by the person who has made this communication and by the person who received such communication, or of course following a court order”.

Phileleftheros’ editor-in-chief Aristos Michaelides responded to the auditor-general’s statement, saying he allowed this Facebook group to use his name and his face to slander anyone they consider “their enemies”.

“And you have nothing to say because you think it’s really an auditor-general support group? You have a responsibility, much bigger than the irresponsible abusers. You have a responsibility, if nothing else, to those who believed in your work and supported you. Because it is in your name that they make these awful personal attacks and it is your name that they surround with mud,” the editor said.


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