The IFJ has backed calls by the Union of Cyprus Journalists for the authorities to stop criminalising journalists. The demand came following growing concerns about attacks on journalists who have published or commented on leaked emails that raise issues about government relations with Russia and the EU.
The union claims journalists have been detained and questioned “as if they had committed a felony” and has demanded that journalists who are acting in the public interest be free to carry out their professional duties.
In a statement the Executive of the UCJ said the attacks had affected “not only journalists who have published or precisely republished part of the content of the emails in question but also journalists who simply wrote or commented on the whole issue. We wonder, sadly, when this form of opinion has the character of a criminal offence with punishment of up to five years’ imprisonment. This is what our colleagues called in for questioning have been warned of.
“We, as UCJ, think that the excessive zeal shown by the Prosecutor General and the prosecuting authorities….tends to hinder the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression of the media. We call on the competent authorities to act in a reasonable manner and the Prosecutor's Office to review its relevant directives”.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The authorities must stop harassing journalists and treating them as if they are criminals. We stand in solidarity with all those seeking to expose the truth”.