A native of the northern Greek island of Thasos, Vassilikos grew up in Thessaloniki, graduating from law school there before moving to Athens to work as a journalist.
Because of his political activities he was forced into exile following the 1967 military coup, where he spent the next seven years.
Between 1981 and 1984 Vassilikos served as general manager of the Greek state television channel ET1.
Since 1996, he has served as Greece's ambassador to UNESCO.
As an author, Vassilikos has been highly prolific and widely-translated. He has published more than 100 books, including novels, plays and poetry. His best known work is the political novel Z (1967) (English language ISBN 0-394-72990-0 or ISBN 0-941423-50-6), which has been translated into thirty-two languages and was the basis of the award-winning film Z directed by Costa-Gavras (with music by Mikis Theodorakis).
In 2008, Vassilikos was among to 41 other personalities of Greece that condemned the action of the withdrawal of Ersi Sotiropoulou's book Zigzag Through the Bitter-Orange Trees from the Greek school libraries, after the appeal of insurance measures by Konstantinos Plevris against to the Ministry of National Education of Greece for this issue. In 2001, Petros Tatoulis had asked the withdrawal of this specific book and he characterized this as pornographic due to the provocative sexual scenes that it contains.
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