Media watchdog asks police to reveal journalist's sources

Take note – story published 7 years ago

It emerged Thursday that Latvia's media and broadcast regulator, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), has asked police to try to uncover the sources of a journalist. 

In March, Latvian Radio journalist Vita Anstrate produced a solid scoop when she revealed the likely names of new appointees to the NEPLP board before the list of candidates had been officially released.

It was the kind of scoop with which many journalists would be pleased and though based on an anonymous source or sources proved to pass the most important test of such leaked information - it was accurate.

However, the NEPLP has clearly taken exception to a breach of its own confidentiality rules and, apparently at a loss to identify the source of its own leak, has taken the extraordinary decision to call in the police.

A letter dated May 18 obtained by LSM Thursday clearly shows that on April 13, NEPLP contacted police and asked them to probe the source of the leaked information - in effect, asking police to uncover a journalist's sources for them.

The police letter confirms the request came from NEPLP and informs them that the result of the probe will be given at a later date.

The journalist at the center of the intrigue, Vita Anstrate, confirmed she had been questioned by police and had done what any good journalist would do: protect her sources.

It is not yet clear precisely when the decision to involve the police was taken though a member of the NEPLP board told LSM it was "at the end of March or beginning of April" when the selection process for new board members was running.

The agendas for NEPLP meetings from March to May make no mention of the issue, suggesting the dramatic move might have been discussed under the catch-all description "any other business".

However, by May 2, NEPLP was enthusiastically tweeting about World Press Freedom Day with the slogan "Access to information and fundamental freedoms - this is your right."


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