The European Federation of Journalists (FEJ) notified Portugal, to the Council of Europe, about the case of “illegal surveillance” to journalists by judicial and police agents, according to a note published on the Union of Journalists (JS) website on Friday. The case is a “clear violation of their professional secrecy and the protection of information sources”, reads.
This was the first time that Portugal was “the target of an alert from the platform created in 2015 to denounce violations of press freedom and protect journalism”.
The FEJ warned of an “especially serious” episode, since Portugal assumed the Portuguese presidency of the European Union. In addition, a month ago, Teresa Ribeiro, former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was chosen “to represent media freedom in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)”.
In addition, “Portugal signed the recommendation of the Council of Europe on the right of journalists not to disclose their sources of information, adopted in 2000 - and which is also protected in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic (article 38)”, read if.
In other words, the Portuguese State agreed to protect journalists' sources of information, which is an essential condition for the journalist's work and for freedom of the press. The aforementioned recommendation therefore calls on the governments of the member states of the Council of Europe "to bring the principles explained therein to the attention of public authorities, law enforcement authorities and the judiciary".
In the same note, which mentions the FEJ notification in the Council of Europe, the Union of Journalists stresses that it has already requested urgent clarifications from the Attorney General (PGR), which has initiated an investigation process.
“The Union of Journalists demands a thorough and quick determination of responsibilities, alerting to the seriousness of this precedent and the constraints it places on the exercise of a free and independent journalism, fundamental in democracy”, reads.
At the origin of this case of vigilance against journalists, is the decision of the prosecutor Andrea Marques, involved in the e-Toupeira process, to send the PSP to monitor journalists from “Correio da Manhã”, “Saturdays” and RTP, in order to identify sources of information. The magistrate, without authorization from a judge, sought to know who was passing information to journalists, in the context of an investigation into the violation of the secrecy of justice in the e-Toupeira case, which was taking place in the Department of Investigation and Criminal Action of Lisbon (DCIAP) .