Cyprus Mail
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Our View: Loizidou email probe smacks more of media suppression than hacking concerns

The journalists all work for Politis

IN AN indignant front-page comment, under the headline, ‘Stop this parody immediately’, the Phileleftheros editor-in-chief attacked the police for calling in the newspaper’s writers to question them about comments they had published in relation to the emails of senior state attorney, Eleni Loizidou. There is a police investigation underway because Loizidou’s personal email account was hacked and its contents posted on a website. Apart from the theft, the police, supposedly, were also investigating violations of the right to privacy.

The paper’s comment protested that Phileleftheros journalists were called in for questioning for reproducing a few words or the odd phrase from emails that had already been made public, dismissing the police actions as “provocative and unacceptable.” He said this constituted “abusive interpretation of the law and court orders that does not aim to serve the public interest but the terrorising of journalists.” The police had also demanded that the ‘suspicious’ articles were removed from the paper’s website, which it found absurd since Loizidou’s email had been published on thousands of websites.

He has a point, but it is a shame he only took exception to the police actions only when the journalists of his paper were called in for questioning and the removal of articles from the website was demanded. The police have already called in journalists from Politis and TV One for questioning while the courts accepted Loizidou’s application for a court order against Politis, forbidding the publication of the emails. Phileleftheros failed to see the absurdity of the court injunction, when it was issued, considering her emails were all over the internet.

Another absurdity was calling in journalists for questioning when the police made no attempt to investigate Department K, the website that posted Loizidou’s emails. This would suggest that the aim of the investigation was not really to find out who had hacked Loizidou’s account but to stop the media writing about the emails – hence the court injunction – through what Phileleftheros described as the “terrorising of journalists.”

The emails were an embarrassment for the attorney general’s office – at least we hope they were – because they gave the impression it operated as a branch of the of the office of Russia’s director of public prosecutions. As for Loizidou, most senior attorney at the AG’s office, the email indicated she was acting like a loyal employee of the Russian prosecution service, blindly obeying orders and pursuing politically motivated extradition requests. And when the Cyprus courts rejected an extradition request, the AG’s office would appeal, effectively fighting the decisions of the Cyprus courts on behalf of another state.

The police investigation seems more concerned about suppressing reports about the embarrassing subservience of Cyprus’ state legal service to the Russian prosecutor’s than anything else. It would, as the carrying out of a criminal investigation into hacking of Loizidou’s email account was officially requested by the prosecution service of Russian Federation.

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