Greek riot police storm former state TV building, evict protesters

ATHENS - Greek riot police stormed into the building of former state television ERT on Thursday and evicted dozens of protesters occupying it since June when the government shut abruptly the state broadcaster, police officials said.

Scuffles broke out between some of the protesters and riot police, who had cordoned off the area and blocked the entrance to the building. Police fired small rounds of teargas to disperse some of the protesters and detained two former workers and two unionists for resisting authorities, the officials said.

Crowds of supporters started rallying outside the main ERT building in the northern suburb of Agia Paraskevi.

The government's sudden decision to switch off the signal of ERT TV in June and fire its 2,600 state workers to please visiting EU and IMF inspectors shocked many in Greece and cost Prime Minister Antonis Samaras a coalition partner.

Hundreds of those who found themselves without a job defied government and management orders to leave the building. Since then, they have been broadcasting a bootleg news channel over the Internet, while the government launched a new television channel called Public TV or DT.

"The battle for democracy and social justice which ERT workers have been fighting for more than four months, has reached its most crucial moment," read a message on ERT's Facebook page calling for people to protest in solidarity. "It's time to act, rally now!"

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)