OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir expressed concern on Tuesday over a recent court decision prohibiting daily Politis from publishing documents concerning a state attorney and the questioning by the police of several journalists.
“It is essential that journalists be free to report on issues of public importance,” Désir said after sending a letter to Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, referring to media reports about leaked e‑mails between state attorney Eleni Loizidou and Russian officials.
Désir also stressed that journalists should not be questioned by the police about their work.
On January 10, 2018, a Nicosia district court issued an injunction, at Loizidou’s request, banning Politis from publishing the contents of leaked e‑mails between the state attorney and Russian prosecutors.
In the month that followed, several journalists from Politis and from Phileleftheros – which has not published the leaked e-mails but made some references to the case – were questioned by police.
Police officers also demanded that Phileleftheros remove any articles they deemed offending in relation to the Loizidou case.
“I was glad to see that President Nicos Anastasiades has emphasized the need to protect journalistic work, when on December 6, 2017, he said that the messenger cannot be held responsible and that the journalists have only published documents of public interest,” the representative said.
He recalled that as stated by the European Court of Human Rights, news is a perishable commodity, delaying or prohibiting its publication, even for a short period, may deprive it of its value and interest.
Therefore an injunction must be reasonably proportionate, making sure that it does not curb free debates on issues of public importance.