By Roy Greenslade
A Slovenian journalist who is accused of publishing classified state intelligence is facing a possible three-year jail sentence. The charges against Anuška Delić, an investigative reporter for the daily newspaper Delo, relate to a series of articles she wrote in 2011 shortly before Slovenia’s parliamentary elections.
She reported on alleged connections between a neo-Nazi group known as Blood and Honour and members of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS). Slovenia’s intelligence and security agency (SOVA) claimed that information in Delić’s report was classified and had been illegally acquired from its files.
She was charged in April 2013 and, after more than a year and a half of deliberation, a judge in the capital, Ljubljana, ruled last week that she must stand trial for disseminating classified information.
Delić was unaware of details of the indictment until the judge’s ruling. She says the document reveals that prosecutors had sought a warrant to access her phone records in an effort to uncover her source. A court apparently denied the request.
Speaking to the International Press Institute (IPI), Delić expressed “relief” at finally having access to the indictment.
She said: “After reading it, I still believe this trial is foremost a case of political prosecution of me, because I am the journalist who uncovered the existence of neo-Nazi members within one of the major political parties.”
The charge is, she said, “a sham and its only goal is trying to get to my sources.”
IPI and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), have expressed serious concern over Delić’s prosecution.
IPI’s press freedom manager, Barbara Trionfi, said: “To allow unresolved accusations of such a serious nature to loom over a journalist in this manner is totally unacceptable.
“Secondly, we are indeed deeply sceptical of the case against Ms. Delić itself and we urge prosecutors to drop the charges without delay. Journalists have a right to report on questions of public interest – as the topic of Ms. Delić’s reporting obviously was – and we struggle to see what compelling state interest justifies this prosecution.
“Furthermore, it goes without saying that while an intelligence agency may understandably wish to locate the source of a leak, it may not do so by pressuring or harassing the media.”