Cyprus Mail
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Our View: Loizidou probe seems more concerned with curbing press freedom

Eleni Loizidou

THREE more journalists went to a police station for questioning on Friday in connection with the publication of emails from the hacked private account of senior state attorney Eleni Loizidou. Two worked for Sigmalive and the other for Politis while another from the latter will be questioned next week; journalists from Phileleftheros and Politis were called in for questioning some weeks ago.

Attorney-general Costas Clerides seems determined to go ahead with the investigation, which seems more concerned with curtailing press freedom than upholding the law. He ignored the comments made on Tuesday by the OSCE’s (Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe) Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir, who also wrote to the Cyprus foreign minister to express his concerns.

“It is essential that journalists be free to report on issues of public importance,” said Desir, who also questioned the court order banning the publication of Loizidou’s emails. He cited an ECHR decision that news was a perishable commodity and that delaying or prohibiting its publication, even for a short period, could deprive it of its value and interest. The court injunction secured by Loizidou’s lawyers against Politis has done exactly that – publication has been prohibited until the appeal is heard and even then, there is no guarantee the injunction would be lifted.

Desir noted that a court injunction should be “reasonably proportionate, ensuring that it does not curb free debates on issues of public importance.” There is no denying that what Clerides and Loizidou want to stop is free debate about how the Cyprus state legal services had been turned into a branch of the office of Russia’s director public prosecutions; it even wasted the taxpayer’s money on appeals against decisions by the Cyprus courts, rejecting extradition requests, on instructions from Moscow.

Clerides does not want this debate to take place so he has ordered the police to intimidate journalists and news media for reproducing emails, which were posted on a website and were of public interest. He has also made a big issue out of the alleged violation of personal data, which has been questioned by President Anastasiades, the Commissioner for Personal Data, the Journalistic Ethics Committee and the journalists’ union, all of whom acknowledged that the content of the emails reproduced was of public interest. No emails about Loizidou’s personal life were made public, but all related to her professional activities as a state employee and none were classified.

The only crime committed was the hacking of a private account, and this is the only thing the police should be investigating. Perhaps they should stop treating every journalist that wrote a story based on the emails as a suspect.

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