Attorney-General Costas Clerides said on Friday there was no reason for confrontation with journalists over the controversial investigation into the leaked emails of a senior state attorney who used her personal account to correspond with the Russian attorney-general’s office regarding extradition cases.
The investigation saw police questioning journalists, prompting an outcry among the media.
On Friday, Clerides met a delegation from the journalists’ union who raised the issue of terminating the probe or completing the procedure as soon as possible and as discretely as possible because it hurt the island’s image as a state where press freedom and freedom of expression were respected.
“Unfortunately, a picture of conflict has been created between the investigating authorities and the legal service with media workers,” the attorney-general said. “There is no reason in my view for a confrontation.”
The emails had been posted on the internet after someone apparently hacked Eleni Loizidou’s account. They were reproduced by daily Politis, prompting the probe.
The published emails showed Loizidou’s excessive zeal in pursuing extradition requests against Russian nationals, some politically motivated, by the prosecutor-general of the Russian Federation.
Loizidou, who has since been suspended pending an investigation, sought and was granted an injunction prohibiting the paper from publishing the emails. She also sued Politis claiming that it had violated her privacy.
Police have questioned several journalists from Politis, which described the move as an effort to muzzle the paper. Phileleftheros reporters were also questioned.
Clerides reiterated that the authorities fully respected freedom of the press but in cases such as these, where personal communications were published, the police were obliged to take statements from everyone involved.
“The constitution and the law must be enforced with full respect towards all the principles and endeavouring in cases like the present one, to maintain the necessary balance between rights and obligations,” the attorney-general said.