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Russia asks Cyprus to investigate theft of attorney’s emails

Attorney-general Costas Clerides

By Angelos Anastasiou

Russia has made a written request to the authorities of Cyprus to investigate the illegal theft of emails sent and received by senior state counsel Eleni Loizidou, attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Monday.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, Clerides confirmed that “in a written request dated December 1, 2017, the office of the state prosecutor of the Russian Federation asked us to conduct a criminal investigation into the theft of electronic data relating to the Russian state prosecutor’s office”.

Last month, a Russian webpage released thousands of emails obtained from Loizidou’s personal email account, which she used for official business.

Excerpts from her conversations, which seemed to suggest an inappropriately close working relationship with Russian prosecutors, were reproduced in Greek Cypriot media.

Loizidou, de facto second-in-command at the Legal Service from her post at the extraditions desk, was promptly transferred to a different post by Clerides, who launched a disciplinary probe against her and a police investigation into the hacking.

But while procedures are ongoing with regard to the case, there can be no public discussions that may influence investigations, Clerides warned.

Asked to comment on the issue at an event against corruption, at which he was guest speaker, Clerides said that, “although much can be said both on the substance and procedural aspects of the affair, there can be no discussions that, directly or indirectly, tend to influence the ongoing investigation”.

“We must all be extremely careful,” he said.

An independent investigator appointed by the cabinet has been given 60 days to conduct the disciplinary probe, while police investigators, Clerides said, have pledged to conclude criminal investigation as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Loizidou’s lawyer Constantinos Kallis deemed Personal Data commissioner Irene Loizidou-Nicolaidou’s pending ruling in a complaint Loizidou filed over daily Politis publishing her emails “invalid and legally unfounded”.

Receiving the complaint, Nicolaidou had said in a statement that publishing personal data may be allowed if it served the public interest, but admonished the media for exposing the personal data of people referenced in the emails but not involved in the case.

She repeated this view the next day in radio and TV appearances.

“Following her complaint, our client reasonably expected that you examine its substance and decide accordingly,” Kallis’ letter said.

“Instead, you rushed to issue a preliminary ruling, stating that the law ‘does not prohibit the publication of personal data in the presence of superseding public interest’. You made similar claims in radio and on TV. Unfortunately, the temptation of promotion is too big and attractive, and difficult to resist.”

The lawyer claimed that the law does not include the ‘public-interest’ caveat Nicolaidou had cited.

“As a jurist, you should have been aware that the principles of administrative law, which include the principle of public interest, do not apply,” he said.

“Therefore, citing the public interest in your preliminary ruling is legally unfounded. It has no value in the field of law. It may have value in the field of populism, which is very attractive even to bodies with executive power.”

In addition, Kallis said, the fact that Nicolaidou’s husband is financial director of Politis should have resulted in her recusal from examining Loizidou’s complaint against the paper.

“It is therefore obvious that your preliminary ruling is tainted with partiality and prejudice,” he charged.

“Your much-touted – by your husband’s employers – ruling is legally unfounded and lacks any validity. The same applies to your final decision, which has been rendered completely useless to our client.”

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