Statewatch News online: Meeting in Brussels on the protection of journalists' sources

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Brussels: Meeting on the protection of journalists' sources

Journalists at your Service is aiming to hold a debate next Friday morning (10.30am) April 2 at the Résidence Palace, 155 rue de la Loi, 1040 Brussels - The Polak Room in order to discuss in an open forum serious questions concerning protection of sources sparked by the recent case of the Stern magazine journalist, Hans-Martin Tillack.

This conference will be chaired by Aidan White, the IFJ General Secretary and will include the following speakers - David Harley Spokesperson for the
EU Parliament (to be confirmed), Hans-Martin Tillack correspondent for Stern Magazine, a representative from the European Commission (to be confirmed), a representative from the European Anti-Fraud Office (to be confirmed), Enrico Brivio, President of The International Press Association , Martine, Simonis from the Belgian Union of Journalists and Geert Bourgeois, member of the Belgian Parliament, lawyer and author of the protection of sources dossier currently under review in the Belgian Parliament.

The debate will invite media representatives of both the local Belgian media and foreign correspondents based here in Belgium and will aim to openly
discuss the importance of confidentiality of journalistic sources in light of developments in the Belgian Parliament which is currently working on a
draft law to include protection of journalists sources within the Belgian legal system.

In a statement on 19 March the International Federation of Journalists said:

Belgian Raid on Reporter Sparks IFJ Alert Over Threat to Journalists’ Rights, 19/03/2004

The International Federation of Journalists today warned of an all-out attack on legitimate investigative reporting following the detention of a leading journalist in Brussels and the police raid on his office.

Earlier today, Hans-Martin Tillack, a correspondent of the German weekly Stern in Brussels was arrested by local police. Police searched his private house and subsequently raided the editorial offices of Stern. The searches were ordered by a Belgian judge on behalf of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), after an article about possible fraud within the European Parliament.

The home search took place just when the Belgian Chamber of Deputies is about to discuss a bill concerning the protection of sources of information for journalists and a draft law is to be voted on next week by the Justice Commission.

“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,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It is all the more suspicious because it comes at a time when Belgium is discussing long overdue rules on protection of journalists sources, said White.”

Background document from the International Federation of Journalists: Story on arrest (link)

Contact: Robert Shaw, Human Rights and Information Officer, International Federation of Journalists, Résidence Palace, 155 rue de la Loi, 1040 Brussels. Tel 32 2 235 22 07, Fax 32 2 235 22 19, Mob 32 (0) 496 205 447,,

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