The leading Estonian newspaper Äripäev and five other national daily newspapers publish Wednesday either a blank frontpage or a blank page inside the newspaper in protest against the bill drafted by the justice ministry that could put journalists in prison for protection their sources.
“The new draft legislation would allow journalists in Estonia to be incarcerated for up to one year for protecting their sources.”
Baltic Business News
The bill, drafted by the justice ministry and now being discussed by MPs, would weaken the protection of Estonian journalists sources. The new draft legislation would allow journalists to be incarcerated for up to one year for protecting their sources.
Should the bill be adopted in the given form, investigating the mischief of public authorities and public officials would become very complicated for journalists. Much easier, obviously, to write about topics which do not entail the looming breach of source protection for the journalist, balticbusinenessnews.com writes.
The draft act lists over 50 exceptions which oblige journalists to disclose their source to the police, the Prosecutor’s Office and the court. Upon failure to do so, one can be punished with a fine that equals up to 500 daily salaries or even face a year in jail.
After 2004, the press hasn’t been requested to disclose their sources in Estonia. It was then that the Tallinn police brought charges against Eesti Päevaleht reporter Sergo Selder in order to find out the name of the waiter who spat on a cutlet.
During the interrogation, Selder had to endure the policeman’s threats, and was also photographed against the mug-shot background like a prisoner. The investigation was concluded when the Prosecutor’s Office stepped in.
At the moment, The Code of Ethics of the Estonian Press obliges a journalist to protect confidential information sources.
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