The journalists’ union warned of dire consequences to press freedom in Cyprus on Wednesday, should the contentious Article 4 in the European Media Freedom Act be passed into law.

Cyprus has been named as one of seven countries that supports the clause.

“We call on the government to reconsider its position, and not contribute to the legalisation of spying on journalists,” the journalists’ union said in a statement.

It added the European Federation of Journalists had confirmed to the union of Cyprus’ government’s support of the clause.

The union said it was saddened by the confirmation.

“If this is implemented, the freedom of the media will be dealt a huge blow, and journalists and their sources will be put at risk,” the union said.

“The provision in question poses enormous risks to the freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Ultimately, there are risks to democratisation.”

France, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Malta, Cyprus and Finland want the new Media Freedom Act to allow surveillance, if needed, for “national security”.

The union also called on the Cyprus’ six-member delegation to the European Parliament to “rise to the occasion and protect the journalistic community from the threatened dangers to the freedom of the press”.

It also urged the European Parliament and the European Commission to “strongly reject this illiberal provision, which not only threatens journalistic sources, but also democracy as a whole”.

In statements to the press on Tuesday, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis asserted that the EU legislation under discussion seeks to bolster media freedoms and plurality.

The exemption to a prohibition on monitoring journalists’ communications, he said, would apply only in “extraordinary circumstances”.

Akel has since tabled the matter to the House interior committee.

Cyprus currently ranks in 55th place out of 180 countries on the world press freedom index.