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Authorities confiscate computer containing newspaper's confidential information

(Globe International/IFEX) - 3 September 2010 - On 27 August 2010, the main computer of the daily newspaper "Niigmiin toli" (Public's Mirror), was confiscated by officers of the General Authority for Implementing Court Decisions (GAFICD). The newspaper is based in Ulaan Baatar, the capital of Mongolia. Some of the paper's journalists offered to hand over other computers instead of the confiscated computer, but the authorities did not agree to this. The main computer contains all of the information on the newspaper's activities, including many confidential sources. The "Niigmiin toli" staff said the confiscation represents a violation of their rights.

The GAFICD officers were acting in accordance with a decision issued by the Chingeltei District Court.

On 1 September 2009, the newspaper published a letter received from citizens of the far western Kazakh province of Bayan-Olgii, in which they criticized wrongdoings by local government officials.

After the letter was published, Mr. S. Khaval, the governor of Bayan-Olgii, and seven other public officials who were impacted by the citizens' letter, filed a civil defamation case, demanding 13 million MNT (approx. US$10,000) in compensation.

On 24 December 2009, the Chingeltei District Court found the newspaper guilty of slander and defamation. The paper was instructed to publish a retraction and an apology and pay 1.7 million MNT (approx. US$1,300) to the complainants. The newspaper appealed the decision to the Capital City Court. Unfortunately, the Capital City Court, in a hearing that lasted from 1 to 3 March 2010, upheld the decision of the court of first instance.

"The citizens of Bayan-Olgii province were planning to hold a hunger strike, and had asked that Mr. S. Khaval resign from his position. Over 3,000 people signed the petition. Therefore, the newspaper considered that the publication was not groundless," said Ms. B. Yondonduichir, the head of the newspaper's Administration Department.

Ms. Kh. Naranjargal, the president of Globe International, in an interview on channel C1 and for the "Odriin sonin" (Daily News) paper on 31 August 2010, protested the actions of the GAFICD. She also strongly criticized government officials and public servants who still use provisions of the Criminal Code and Civil Law to censor and pressure the media. In addition, she expressed concern about respect for the right of journalists to protect their confidential sources.

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