Police Rejects Claim for Criminal Prosecution of Soviet Belorussia Journalist for Disclosure of Sensitive Information

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The Soviet district police department of Minsk dismissed the claim filed by an NGO against the government-run newspaper Sovietskaya Belorussia regarding their article where the newspaper published letters being evidence in an espionage case.

On August 23, the Center for Legal Transformation (Lawtrend) filed a complaint to the General prosecutor’s office regarding a publication of closed criminal case materials in mass media. The complaint addressed the article in Sovietskaya Belorussia dated August 21, authored by Ihar Dolin. The article (and continuation on the next day) told about Andrei Haydukou who had been convicted of attempt of espionage. The Legal Transformation Center claims that the materials, in particular letters of Haydukou, were part of the criminal case, and were not publicly accessible and belonged to the sensitive information protected by law. Cases of revealing such information are regulated by articles 198 and 287 of the Criminal Code and of the “Provision on procedure for providing information related to criminal cases of crimes that caused wide public response…” The organization drew attention to the fact that the sentence had not yet come into legal force. In this regard, the Legal Transformation Center asked to hold a prosecutor’s investigation and hold those guilty accountable.

On August 27 the prosecutor’s office of the Soviet district in Minsk replied to the Legal Transformation Center that their complaint was passed over to the home affairs department of the Soviet district to investigate it on merits.

In the reply dated November 2, an inspector of the Soviet police department informs that the claim was dismissed for the reason that the incident under consideration contained no crime constituents.

The inspector draws attention to the fact that the information in the newspaper was provided by a source which the author refused to reveal, referring to the journalist’s ethics and protection of sources. Also, the author had not been warned that it was inadmissible to disclose secrets of investigation or of a closed court hearing, neither did he have access to the case materials, thus the author was not subject to criminal prosecution under article 407 of the Criminal Code.

The copy of the police’s statement was sent to the Vitebsk regional department of the KGB for holding an investigation into the fact how the employee of Sovietskaya Belorussia had obtained the information from the Haydukou’s case.

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