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IPI-backed Tom Nicholson deemed not a journalist by Slovak police

The International Press Institute defended journalist Tom Nicholson in a September 16 statement after he was reportedly deemed by Slovak police not to be a journalist. Nicholson, a journalist and a Canadian native living and working in Slovakia, has been requested by the Slovak police to reveal his sources.

The International Press Institute defended journalist Tom Nicholson in a September 16 statement after he was reportedly deemed by Slovak police not to be a journalist. Nicholson, a journalist and a Canadian native living and working in Slovakia, has been requested by the Slovak police to reveal his sources.

The Vienna-based IPI argues that Nicholson has been working as a journalist for 20 years (including a stint as chief editor of The Slovak Spectator) and is thus entitled, according to Slovak and international law, to protect his sources - a right that is also backed by the European Convention on Human Rights. Any attempt to exert pressure on a journalist to disclose informational sources is a violation of the Slovak Press Act and the European Convention on the right for the protection of secret sources, the SITA newswire reported, quoting the IPI statement.

The Sme daily wrote that the Interior Ministry investigated Nicholson to determine whether he is, in fact, a journalist. Nicholson was summoned by police in connection with the investigation of a leaked transcript of a phone conversation between a former advisor to Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, Stanislav Jankovič, and Libor Jakšík, the latter of whom is alleged to be the head of a criminal organisation.

Back in February, Nicholson informed that he acquired the transcript of an allegedly friendly conversation between the two from August 2010, in which they mention current General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár. The investigators now want Nicholson to reveal where he got his information, according to what he has written on his blog.

Nicholson, who testified in the case as a witness, refused to reveal his source, citing the Press Act. Investigator Ivan Hapšták told him, according to the blog, that the Press Act only concerns people who are employed by a publisher or have a contract with one. Nicholson currently publishes his stories himself on the internet.

The Interior Ministry refused to inform Sme of their next step, arguing that to do so could threaten the ongoing investigation.

Head of the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists (SSN) Tamara Valková said, as quoted by Sme, that this is not a new problem and that it stems from outdated regulations.

“We have a Press Act that involves printed media and newswires. The Act on Broadcasting and Re-transmission concerns electronic media,” Valková said, adding that the solution might be to pass a completely new media law that would also cover internet media and blogs. However, the Culture Ministry currently has no such plans on its agenda.

(Source: SITA, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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