Media non-governmental organisations express solidarity with the Center for Investigative Journalism of the Republic of Moldova (CIJM), as well as their concern about the court order that annulled the Prosecutor’s order not to prosecute the Center for Investigative Journalism and its reporters.
According to CIJM, after a journalistic investigation into the wealth of former spouses Igor Popa (prosecutor) and Ala Popa (lawyer) was published, the latter filed criminal charges against journalists for alleged violation of privacy (Article 177 of the Criminal Code). After investigating the journalists for about one year, the case prosecutor issued an order not to prosecute on the grounds that that ‘the act does not contain the elements of a crime’.
On 27 January 2022, Chișinău Court, Ciocana Office (judge Victor Rațoi), quashed the prosecutor’s order not to prosecute CIJM and the order rejecting the complaint filed by lawyer Ala Popa, who disagreed with the prosecutors’ decisions.
We remind that according to the Decision of the Press Council (PC), issued with regards to the request of the National Center for Personal Data Protection (NCPDP), the Center for Investigative Journalism did not violate the ethical norms or best journalistic practices during the fact-finding inquiry for the investigation that upset the complainant. In addition, CIJM informed that in late 2021 prosecutors started two criminal investigations against Igor Popa for misrepresentation and illicit enrichment, both cases being based on the journalistic investigation materials.
Media NGOs believe that the practice of filing criminal charges against journalists who are carrying out their mission to inform citizens on matters of public interest is an attack against media’s freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
In this context, the signatory organisations urge the persons who believe that the media affected their rights to stop misusing the legal leverages as a tool to intimidate journalists and law enforcement bodies to solve the criminal or contravention cases started against journalists by respecting the special safeguards offered by law to the media.
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Press Freedom Committee
Environment and Ecotourism Journalists’ Association
Association of Electronic Press