September 20, 2018, Yerevan
Three days have passed after the search conducted on September 17 at the editorial of the “Yerevan.today” news website, however the law enforcement bodies have not introduced any substantiations about the need for those rough actions.
We, the undersigned organizations, took into consideration the official clarifications by the RA Investigative Committee on September 17 and 19, re “…the search had and has nothing to do with the journalistic activity, but it exclusively aimed at ensuring multifaceted, objective and full examination of the criminal case…” Although the matter refers to the investigation of an important case, which is linked to Armenia’s national security, such as wire-tapping the heads of NSS and SIS, the official clarification can be perceived as only an assurance, which should be reinforced by weighty facts and substantiations. While those are missing, we announce that
- When conducting operative activities with the journalists and media outlets, the law enforcement bodies must demonstrate more delicacy and take into consideration that seizing equipment and keeping them for days disrupts the work of the mass media and restricts the right of the audience to receive information,
- Only respective intelligence information could serve as a ground for the conducted search, but not the publications by the media outlet,
- Those activities could be considered as interference in the activity of the media outlet and threaten the protection of the information sources,
- One cannot ignore the possible negative impact of the search on the reputation of the media outlet, nor the threat of generating extra caution in the media field can be ignored.
Taking into consideration the aforementioned, we demand
- From the investigative committee to make public the main results after the expert examination is over, which will spread light on how proportionate and necessary the SIS and RA police actions were,
- From the police and the SIS, to return the computer and the hard drives to the editorial as soon as possible, as we think, that if acted professionally the law enforcement could finish the examination of the facts and circumstances related to “Yerevan.today” within three days,
- From the Prosecutor’s office, to ensure proper supervision over the activities by the police and investigative bodies in relation to the search conducted at “Yerevan.today”, while considering the violations highlighted by the media outlet’s editor-in-chief.
We will continue keeping a close eye on the course of the pre-investigation and further developments and introduce our assessments and disposition to the public.
COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
CENTER FOR MEDIA INITIATIVES
JOURNALISTS’ “ASPAREZ” CLUB
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER OF ARMENIA
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB
“HUMAN RIGHTS POWER” NGO
PUBLIC AGENDA NGO