Ruling against Belgium in Strasbourg
28 November 2007, STRASBOURG - The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Belgian police searches of a German journalist's home and office violated his rights to free expression.
28 November 2007
STRASBOURG - The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Belgian police searches of a German journalist's home and office violated his rights to free expression.
Hans-Martin Tillack, who was based in Brussels for the German weekly Stern, was targeted in 2004 after writing articles about alleged European Union fraud. Tillack wrote two articles about alleged EU fraud in 2002.
The EU anti-fraud office OLAF then launched an inquiry into whether Tillack's articles contained information obtained through payments to officials.
OLAF suspected Tillack of bribing an EU official with EUR 8,000 in exchange for confidential information regarding a fraud investigation in the EU.
Tillack and Stern have denied paying for confidential information.
The human rights court referred in its judgment to a report by the European ombudsman that concluded the suspicion of bribery had been based on rumours spread by another journalist.
After receiving details about OLAF's inquiry, Belgian police detained Tillack for several hours in 2004 and searched his home and office, seizing 16 crates of paper, two computers and four mobile phones.
Belgium must pay damages
The European Court of Human Rights ordered Belgium to pay Tillack EUR10,000 in damages and EUR 30,000 for court expenses. It said the searches were aimed at revealing his sources and, therefore, breached his rights as a journalist.
[Copyright Flanders news 2007]
Subject: Belgian news