Berlin, May 16, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Slovak authorities to respect the confidentiality of journalistic sources. Slovak police in Bratislava yesterday seized the mobile phone of Czech investigative reporter Pavla Holcova while questioning her for their investigation into the murder of her colleague, Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak, and his girlfriend, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reported.
Holcova, who runs the OCCRP-affiliated Czech Center for Investigative Reporting, told CPJ today that Slovakia’s National Crime Agency invited her to Bratislava for questioning and that during the course of her eight-hour interrogation, she was shown the Slovak special prosecutor’s order to give authorities her phone or face a fine of 1,650 euros. The journalist gave them her phone, but turned it off and refused to provide access codes, Holcova said.
Holcova had been working with Kuciak on behalf of OCCRP when he and his girlfriend were found shot to death on February 25, 2018.
“The investigation into Jan Kuciak’s murder should aim to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources,” said CPJ European Union Representative Tom Gibson in Brussels. “We call on Slovak authorities to immediately return Pavla Holcova’s phone and to demonstrate that the investigation will be conducted effectively and professionally.”
Speaking with the Slovak news website Aktuality, the spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office, Jana Tökölyová, said that Holcova acted voluntarily when handing over her phone.