The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today called on the government of the Netherlands to come clean over the extent of surveillance of media in the country after civil servants were exposed for secretly spying on a news agency for over a year.
The EFJ was responding after civil servants in the Ministry of Social Affairs were forced to admit that they had been hacking into the computer of the GPD news agency and secretly monitoring work prepared by journalists. The surveillance came to light after officials from the ministry complained to the agency about the contents of a story that had not yet been published.
“This is a scandalous state of affairs,” said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “But it’s not clear if this is the end of the matter. We need to know if there is a culture of systematic surveillance of journalists by government authorities and if other media are being secretly monitored.”
The EFJ says that the incident confirms fears within journalists of increased government interference in the work of media.
In the past year the EFJ has criticized telephone tapping, attempts force journalists to reveal their sources of info, and unwarranted prosecution of reporters in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and other European countries.
“The government of the Netherlands must carry out a full investigation and reassure all media that there is no continuing secret monitoring of the work of journalists,” White said. “At the very least there should be a full apology to the news agency and all those working in it.”
The IFJ is planning to examine what further steps need to be taken with the Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten (NVJ), its affiliate in the Netherlands.
For more information contact the EFJ at 32 2 235 2200
The EFJ represents over 230,000 journalists in 32 countries.