Expatica news

Still no charges against arrested journalist

23 March 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian police on Tuesday had still not pressed charges against a German investigative journalist arrested in Brussels last week after writing an article on alleged fraud in the European Parliament.

Hans-Martin Tillack, who works for German newsweekly Stern, was arrested then released without charge last Friday. Police also raided his office and his home and confiscated a number of files, documents and notebooks, apparently after receiving a complaint from the European Commission’s anti-fraud unit OLAF.

On Tuesday the police still had not returned Tillack’s papers but had pressed no charges against the journalist.

Journalists’ rights organisations including the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), which is based in Paris, reacted furiously to Tillack’s arrest.

Both condemned the police action as a serious attack on a journalist’s right to protect his or her sources.

“This appears to be a fishing expedition by police and security forces to try to expose where the journalist got his information and who he has been speaking to,” IFJ General Secretary Aiden White said in a statement released after Tillack’s arrest.

“It is all the more suspicious because it comes at a time when Belgium is discussing long overdue rules on protection of journalists’ sources,” he added.

RSF said the raid was a “violation of the principle of protection of sources, which is fundamental for independent investigative journalism.”

Tillack is set to meet with the Belgian police next week, when he hopes to get back some of his papers.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news