Political fairness watchdog group Fair-Play Alliance (AFP) has announced it is organising an effort to provide financial support to investigative journalist Tom Nicholson, who has reported extensively on the so-called Gorilla file. AFP's Zuzana Wienk said Nicholson, a freelancer from Canada who has lived and worked in Slovakia for several years, has been overstretched since the Gorilla case erupted and will not be able to continue investigating it without extra support.
The Gorilla file is an as-yet unverified document that was leaked onto the internet in December and purports to contain covertly recorded conversations from 2005 and 2006 between businesspeople and senior officials and politicians. Its contents have aroused suspicions of high-level corruption at that time.
Wienk said she does not have confidence in the official investigation of the Gorilla case. "I am personally very concerned about the outcome of the investigation. According to my experience of how the police works and the political pressure they are under, I do not trust the prosecutor's office with its current leadership either, and I am also displeased with the fact that the president is reluctant to appoint a legitimately elected general prosecutor," Wienk told the SITA newswire, adding that these circumstances necessitate the work of a reporter to monitor the investigation in Slovakia.
Nicholson accepted the idea of financial support, which AFP said can be sent direct to his bank account, on condition of absolute transparency and clear terms. He said he would use €2,000 a month from any accepted donations, the amount he earned when he worked, for his personal needs without documenting spending. He would discuss other expenses (for example motor fuel for travel, phone bills for investigative needs) with Fair Play Alliance, which would examine their appropriateness and draw up a quarterly report. If Nicholson receives more money than he needs, he will consider establishing a civic association which would monitor and report on ties between politicians and political nominees on the one hand and financial groups and sponsors on the other.
Nicholson will write a blog about his findings and developments in the case and its investigation once a week. The Fair-Play Alliance came up with the initiative two weeks ago and the Sme daily wrote in its Friday, March 2, issue that Nicholson has already received €5,000.
Source: SITA, Sme
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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