Bulgarian and Romanian Journalists were Detained, the Interior Ministry Said it was just for Questioning (Updated)
Two journalists - Bulgarian and Romanian - have been detained by the Pernik police in connection with a European corruption investigation. This was announced late on Thursday evening on the Facebook page of Bivola investigative website. The Association of European Journalists in Bulgaria also announced that it received many signals about the case, but not information from the Ministry of Interior.
"Dimitar Stoyanov and Attila Biro from RISE Project Romania were detained by Radomir police officers during a journalistic report." Attila (Thursday, 13 September) reported at an international conference in Sofia about frauds and abuses with public funds: "Together against the conquest of the state," and "#GPGate," says the status of Bivola in the social network. There is added that the journalists were taken to the local police station because they tried to make footage of hole near the village of Eglunitsa, Kovachevtsi municipality, where documents related to their investigation were burned.
On Friday morning the MoI press center could not answer the questions of Dnevnik and said it was checking the information. Later, Chief Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (IOC) Ivaylo Spiridonov told the media that on September 11, the Ministry of Interior received a signal from the journalists about actions aimed at hiding corruption - destroying public procurement materials .
"Yesterday, in Pernik, three people were detained in an operation where materials were destroyed, who subsequently became two journalists and a lawyer, and they were taken for identification and explanation, and then released. They were brought for questioning just to explain the case, "says Spiridonov.
"While at the meadow - how could they be identified?" Spiridonov replied to a question about whether detention had taken place on a meadow, as the Bivola site reported. He did not comment on whether and what was found about the destroyed materials.
"They are taken to the district administration and after their identification and explanations for the purpose of their stay in the area are released," the Ministry of Interior press release later announced.
Journalist Dimitar Stoyanov and his Romanian counterpart, Attila Biro, did not answer their cell phones on Friday afternoon to tell what happened.
There is still no comment from the Romanian Embassy in Bulgaria, and according to Bivola, their consul in the country has been involved in clarifying the case during the night.
Once again, on Facebook, the site reported that the two journalists had come home safely "after spending the night with handcuffs in the middle of the field, with no phones until 4am."
Meanwhile, a protest was also organized on the social network to protect the detainees on Monday (September 17th) at 18:30 before the Council of Ministers.
Ombudsman Maya Manolova determined the detention of the two journalists violated human rights related to freedom of speech and the right of citizens to receive and seek information. She spoke to the police chief in Pernik, who informed her that they were released at 4:30 am this morning, her press office said. "From the information provided by Commissioner Popov and the data on their detention in the media and their release at 4.30 am, the Ombudsman found that there was unjustified and unlawful detention of journalists in the course of their professional activity," the statement said. It adds that Manolova wants complete information and publicity on the case. "The lack of information leaves an impression in the public that attempts have been made to hinder a journalistic investigation," the Ombudsman also said.
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