European Journalists Accuse Luxembourg Minister Of "Vindictive Campaign" Against Defiant Editor

The European Federation of Journalists, Europe's largest group of journalists, has accused Luxembourg of a "vindictive campaign" to silence an Editor who has exposed tax evasion in the private affairs of a Government minister.

More than three years after publication of an investigative article the editor in chief of Letzeburger Journal, Rob Roemen, is being prosecuted over his failure to reveal his sources of information on the instructions of the Minister of Home Affairs, Michal Wolter. In 1998 Roeman revealed tax evasion by Mr. Wolter in his capacity as a president of the Luxemburg Tennis Association.

"Legal demands to force this journalist to betray his confidential sources are completely unjustified and they smack of a vindictive campaign of persecution," said Gustl Glattfelder, Chairman of the EFJ.

A libel action by the Minister last year failed, but it led to searches in the home and office of the journalist. "Even though the journalist was acquitted, the minister persisted with attempts to use the law to force Rob Roemen to reveal his sources," said Gustl Glattfelder. "It is a shocking abuse of authority."

The EFJ protested over attempts by the Luxemburg authorities to use details of Rob Roemen telephone calls and contacts with some politicians to find the source. This procedure is legal under Luxemburg law, but the actions in this case led to an intensive debate in parliament ending with a unanimous decision to revise this law.

However, the Minister has pursued the journalist again and last Friday Roemen was ordered to court where the investigating judge accused him of recel de violation de secret professionel in order to force the journalist to reveal his source.

"These actions are a flagrant violation of human rights under the European Convention of Human Rights and the policy of the Council of Europe," says Gustl Glattfelder. "A journalists' right to not to disclose their sources is fundamental to press freedom."

He called on the Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker to rein in his "vengeful minister" Wolter. "This must be done immediately, " said Glattfelder. "We know that the Juncker Government is preparing a new and obviously progressive press law, but the actions of Minister Wolter contradict the spirit and the principles of the new law."