European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Press
Association (API) representing foreign press correspondents in Brussels, today condemned a recent
statement by the European Commission’s security services which hints that
journalists and lobbyists can provide cover for potential spies to
search for sensitive and classified information.
sort of loose talk ends up smearing everyone working in journalism by casting a
cloud of suspicion over them," said EFJ General Secretary Aidan
White. “Security concerns are one thing, but this sort of comment puts
journalists at risk and makes their job of scrutinising public officials and
the work of the Commission more difficult. European Union officials
should do their jobs without raising scares about the honesty and
integrity of correspondents working in Brussels”.
European Commission fears that its confidential documents are increasingly at
risk from spies. "We are not only pointing the finger at
journalists. It could be the pretty trainee with the long legs and the blonde
hair" Commission spokeswoman Valerie Rampi said yesterday after
a report in the German newspaper the Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung quoted from a confidential letter from the
director of the commission's security services to its Director of human resources.
'Recent cases show that the threat of espionage is increasing day by day. A
number of countries, information seekers, lobbyists, journalists, private
agencies and other third parties are continuing to seek sensitive and
classified information’, said the Commission memo, which dates back to
need to remind the Commission that investigative journalism is in the
public interest. Journalists have to look also for ‘sensitive and classified’
documents in order to inform the public and to place information in a truthful
context. It is a legitimate and
essential part of a democracy to allow reporters to ask
searching questions and get access to documents some politicians and officials would
prefer for their own vested interests to keep out of sight,"
said Lorenzo Consoli, the President of API.
Commission has a poor record of its treatment of investigative journalists. For
instance, we are still waiting for an official
response from them to take responsibility and apologise over
their bogus complaint against German Stern reporter Hans-Martin
Tillack who was cleared last month of wrong-doing in
his work to expose corruption in the European Union", said White.
EFJ has called on the Commission to investigate how its officials came to make
the false accusation of bribery against Tillack and to carry out an independent
inquiry into the case that for years cast a shadow over relations between Brussels journalists and
the Commission. "Now the suggestion is that every journalist is a
potential spy -- it's the worst kind of scaremongering," said
The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists
in 30 countries.
API represents 500
journalist accredited to the EU Institutions
more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235.2202 or API at +32 473 746651