Cyprus' Ex-President Sues Corruption Probe Witness, Author

Published: 02 May 2024

Nicos AnastasiadesCyprusFormer President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, is not happy with the book Mafia State by Makarios Drousiotis, so he decided to sue the author. (Photo: European People's Party, Flickr, License)


Cypriot Former President Nicos Anastasiades has filed a defamation suit against an author who testified to an anti-corruption body about alleged misconduct while he was head of state.

Cyprus’ Independent Authority Against Corruption had called Makarios Drousiotis to speak about allegations included in his 2022 book, Mafia State, which was partly based on his time as an advisor to Anastasiades during the first two years of his presidency from 2013 to 2023.

Drousiotis was served with legal papers this week, immediately after he finished testifying. He is expected to testify again later this month.

Anastasiades is suing Drousiotis for more than 2 million euros (about $2.1 million), claiming “damages for defamation via the publication of the books The Gang and Mafia State.” The legal papers show that Anastasiades has demanded the books be taken out of publication.

Drousiotis’ lawyer accused Anastasiades of initiating a strategic lawsuit against public participation, known as a SLAPP, in an attempt to silence him.

“That’s clearly a SLAPP, with the purpose of intimidating Drousiotis while he is testifying,” his lawyer, Leto Cariolou, said by phone. “Drousiotis is ready to defend at the court what he describes in his books.”

George Triantafyllides, one of Anastasiades’s lawyers, refuted that assertion, saying the lawsuit was filed after Drousiotis began testifying.

“If our intention was to intimidate Mr Drousiotis, the action would have been filed before the start of the giving of his evidence before the Authority,” Triantafyllides said in an email.

“The lawsuit was filed for the sole reason that the two books contain serious defamatory matters against our client Mr Nicos Anastasiades and for no other reason whatsoever," he added.

When the anti-corruption authority announced its probe in February, Anastasiades reportedly welcomed the investigation of Drousiotis’ allegations against him, saying he expected it to “demolish his malicious and slanderous lies one by one.”

Among other claims in Mafia State, Drousiotis asserted that Anastasiades flew in planes chartered by billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev in exchange for harassing the Russian national’s wife during a messy divorce. Drousiotis also accused Anastasiades of appropriating the lion's share of 500,000 euros donated to his party.

Drousiotis and his lawyer told OCCRP he is the subject of four more lawsuits due to his writing.

Four police officers are suing him for defamation after he wrote that they failed to investigate a complaint that his electronic communications had been hacked. An IT expert whom he asked for assistance to protect against electronic surveillance also filed a suit after he accused him of installing more spyware on his laptop.

In addition, one of Anastasiades’ sons-in-law is suing Drousiotis due to a reference the writer made to him in an interview. And finally, Anastasiades’s former public relations manager filed a defamation suit after being named in Drousiotis’ latest book, which includes further allegations of corruption during the former president’s administration.

In the meantime, Drousiotis is running for a seat in the European Parliament as part of a new Cypriot political party called Volt.