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Journalists' telephone conversations with sources taped by government, leaked to media

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Condemns Publication of Latvian Journalist's Phone Conversations

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional European group today condemned the publication of a Latvian journalist's telephone conversations in print and broadcast media and called for a full investigation into the taping of those conversations and the leak to the press.

"The Latvian government must find out who is responsible for turning over these tapes," said Arne König, chair of the European Federation of Journalists. "Otherwise, it sends a chilling message that journalists and their sources may be under surveillance at any time."

Latvian law enforcement officials taped some of television reporter Ilze Jaunalksne's phone conversations in 2005 and 2006. Even though the recordings were authorized by the government, she was never charged with a crime. The tapes were then leaked to television, Internet and print media in Latvia who replayed or reprinted portions of the conversations earlier this month.

Jaunalksne works for a weekly Latvian television news-magazine show called "De Facto," which has aired several programs on political corruption in the country. Her conversations with sources and colleagues were leaked to the media.

"This is a clear case of intimidation and a blow to press freedom in the country," König said. "Latvian officials need to explain why Ms. Jaunalksne's phone was tapped and how and why those conversations were leaked to the press."

According to news reports, Latvian law enforcement authorities have launched a criminal investigation to find out who leaked the tapes to the press.

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 100 countries worldwide.

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