Two journalists charged in Operation Olovo
The police have ended their investigation into the so-called Operation Olovo, a case revolving around a document attempting to discredit the deputy chairperson of Parliament and a prominent figure in the Social Democratic Party, Petra Buzkova. The police are now charging not only Prime Ministerial adviser Vratislav Sima, the alleged author, but also two journalists, who published the document in the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes. Olga Szantova reports:
Whether Vratislav Sima really did produce the slanderous document and is being charged justly is for the court to decide. But the fact that the two journalists are also going to stand trial is a matter of heated discussion. The police have not recognized the journalists' right to protect their sources and are charging them with knowingly failing to prevent a criminal offence. Has that charge come as a surprise? I asked journalist Alexandr Mitrofanov, who has been following the issue: Many journalists see the situation as more serious than Alexander Mitrofanov. The Committee for the Protection of the Freedom of the Press, which is a part of the Syndicate of Czech Journalists, has issued a statement in which it does speak about a direct threat to the freedom of the press. Journalists, but the public as well, will be following the trial with great interest. It will be the first of its kind since the Press Law was passed earlier this year. Should the court find the two journalists guilty, investigative journalism would be seriously handicapped in the Czech Republic.