Main opposition Akel MP Irini Charalambidou said Tuesday she had instructed her lawyers to file a slander lawsuit against ruling Disy MP Zaharias Zahariou after he repeatedly accused her of receiving and leaking classified documents from the former chief of police.
Charalambidou said the decision had not been an easy one but there was no other option.
“As a former journalist I am especially sensitive to press freedom matters,” she said in a statement. “I think everybody should be allowed to say whatever they want, even nonsense, as long as they are not deliberately trying to cause harm to someone else.”
Former deputy police chief Andreas Kyriacou was sacked by President Nicos Anastasides last May for leaking sensitive information and was also facing prosecution.
Earlier this month, he pleaded not guilty to three charges relating to violation of confidentiality and circulation of classified material.
Kyriacou is suspected to have been the source of the leak of a 2015 report which had been classified as a service document and was intended for internal police use only.
A copy of the report was presented last June however, by Charalambidou, at the House ethics committee and parts of it were published in a newspaper the next day.
The Akel MP said her colleague had gone too far, repeatedly claiming as a fact that she had received and subsequently leaked the classified documents.
She accused Zahariou of slander at a time when the matter was being tried in court.
“He has turned into the prosecutor and the judge,” Charalambidou said. “His statements are similar and recurrent; above all they are untrue and clearly seek to prejudge a court case in the mind of public opinion, adding me to the charge sheet and categorically declaring my guilt.”
The law’s protection from such practices was the only appropriate defence, she added.
Zahariou’s response came in the form of a post on his Facebook page in which he suggested that Charalambidou should be ashamed of herself.