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Journalists summoned to international court for publishing allegedly confidential information on war crimes trial

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an 8 November 2007 IFJ media release:

IFJ Criticises Indictment of Croatian Journalists at The Hague "For Doing Their Job"

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned by the demand from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague to question eight Croatian journalists over publication of confidential information related to the prosecution of Ante Gotovina for war crimes.

"We are deeply disturbed at the prospect of the Tribunal questioning journalists for doing their job of reporting on the prosecution of war criminals," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Journalists have a public duty to report information, sometimes even when it is confidential, but in this case, however, there was not only a strong public interest but journalists were republishing information already in the public domain."

Yesterday, eight journalists were formally asked to attend the court to answer allegations that they had published the contents of a confidential annex attached to the indictment charge against Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac. The annex contained names of Croatian public figures being investigated by the court. The list of names was first published in May and the journalists had republished this information. The court has since removed the classified status from the annex.

"The IFJ will always insist that journalists should respect the workings of courts of law, particularly when they are dealing with sensitive political issues and terrible crimes of war, but placing eight journalists under suspicion for publishing information that is no longer confidential will only damage the court's reputation," added White. "There is a danger that this will be seen as intimidation of journalists at a time when the court should be focused on prosecuting war criminals."

The IFJ will monitor the situation closely together with its two Croatian affiliates, the Croatian Journalists' Association and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 121 countries worldwide.

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