Attorney-general Accused of Fascism, Censorship
Alithia and Phileleftheros newspapers, along with the head of the journalists' union Antonis Makrides lambasted the attorney-general for adding a condition to an existing law in which journalists would have to reveal their sources to the courts in criminal cases.
"I have been writing for 33 years and not once has any high-profile story not been linked with criminal cases," said Makrides in comments to state radio.
The law was rejected by the House of Representatives yesterday, and questions were raised as to why the amendment crept in without anyone noticing until the last minute.
Clerides said that after he added the condition, the bill had left his office in December 2011 and he hadn't heard anything further about it. The amendment was intended to be used only in extreme cases affecting national security or constitutional rights, he said. Clerides refused to confirm why he had decided to add the amendment, saying only that he would not go into such details.
Last year there were several high-profile leaks from within the foreign ministry and Presidential Palace showing that President Demetris Christofias had promised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he would return confiscated weapons from Iran. Public opinion turned against Christofias, who was held responsible for delaying the destruction of the explosives, which blew up on July 11th, 2011, killing 13 men and injuring over 60 people in and around Evangelos Florakis naval base. The revelations embarrassed the government and triggered large-scale demonstrations demanding that the president resign.
Without the ability to protect sources in situations like these, journalists would never be able to get confidential information that is in the public interest, said Makrides. It is mostly in extreme cases that sources have to be protected, he pointed out.
"Let's say I have a source inside the Attorney-general's office, do you think they would tell me anything if this law passed?" said Makrides.
During the criminal investigation of the explosion at Evangelos Florakis, the police's findings were leaked to the press. After the deadly blast, the media became determined to keep the authorities from protecting the powerful individuals involved, from the former defence and foreign ministers, all the way up to the president.
Photo: original source
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