A senior state attorney whose work emails had been hacked and published online could be facing a disciplinary procedure in connection with leaving her laptop abroad without securing its information and using her personal email account for official business, Attorney-General Costas Clerides said on Wednesday.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Clerides said Eleni Loizidou could be facing three disciplinary charges.
The case file has been handed over to the civil service commission for further action, the AG said.
Loizidou was suspended following the publication of the emails and a probe was undertaken by customs department director Demetris Hadjicostis.
A separate probe into the hacking and publication of the emails was undertaken by police.
As to the circumstances that led to the laptop being left abroad, Clerides said: “I couldn’t find a better word other than she dumped the malfunctioning computer abroad. The computer malfunctioned, it did not function at all and she abandoned it, according to my interpretation.”
The laptop was never recovered.
Her correspondence however was published by a Russian website and reproduced by daily Politis last November.
The published emails showed Eleni Loizidou’s excessive zeal in pursuing extradition requests against Russian nationals, some politically motivated, by the prosecutor-general of the Russian Federation.
Loizidou, who was suspended pending the investigation, sought and was granted an injunction prohibiting the paper from publishing the emails. She also sued Politis claiming that it had violated her privacy.
Police questioned several journalists from Politis, which described the move as an effort to muzzle the paper. There were also statements from various other parties who protested the move.
Clerides said police were still waiting for information requested from Russia and other, EU, countries. However, the part concerning the publication and republication of the emails was completed and any further action would be decided by the AG.
“My view is that of course journalists are interested in doing their work properly, and of course they are interested in not having any interference. On the other hand, investigators must enforce the constitution and the law and the necessary balance must be found,” he said.
Clerides said his outfit had fought hard for crime fighting authorities to be afforded the necessary tools to be able to monitor communications but “it was impossible”. There was strong resistance from parliament which eventually enacted a law with numerous safeguards.
He reiterated that suggestions of the persecution of journalists were untrue, wondering who the authorities could question in connection with the reports if not the people who published them.
“This is not prosecution, this is an investigation,” he said.
It was now up to him to exercise his discretionary powers on whether it would be to the public interest to prosecute or not but not before taking into account factors such as freedom of expression, transparency and press freedom.