International press freedom watchdogs are watching the political situation in Greece with growing alarm following the treatment of journalists by the far-right Golden Dawn party.

After Golden Dawn obtained 7% of the vote, a press conference was staged by its leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos. Before his arrival, waiting reporters were ordered by party members to stand as a sign of respect.

Journalists who refused to do so were then expelled from the room.

This move came as little surprise to the Greek journalist Xenia Kounalaki. Last month, she wrote an article about Golden Dawn in the German weekly Der Spiegel, which prompted an attack on her on the party's website.

She said: "It was a 2,500-word-long personal attack... [they] recounted my entire career, mocked my alleged foreign roots (I was born in Hamburg) and even, for no apparent reason, mentioned my 13-year-old daughter.

"The unnamed authors indirectly threatened me as well, 'To put it in the mother tongue of foreign Xenia: "Kommt Zeit, kommt Rat, kommt Attentat!"' In other words, watch your back."

Golden Dawn's 7% vote gives it 21 of 300 seats in the Greek parliament. It is considered to be a significant mainstream breakthrough for a party regarded as being neo-Nazi. The party's principal policy is to rid Greece of all "illegal immigrants".

Oliver Vujovic, secretary general of the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), said: "I am very worried by these developments. All political parties have to respect democratic principles and press freedom.

"However, in one month, the Golden Dawn party threatened one journalist and obliged reporters to stand to salute the party leader or leave the press conference.

"I hope that these incidents will be isolated cases and that the Golden Dawn leaders will respect democratic principles."

Sources: SEEMO/IPI/Der Spiegel/The Guardian