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Police try to search Moscow weekly's offices for information on sources

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the abortive attempt on 14 April 2010 by the Moscow police to search the premises of the Moscow-based independent weekly "New Times" / "Novoye Vremya" in execution of a court order that is the subject of an appeal by the weekly.

Moscow's Tverskoi district court issued the search order on 5 April in response to a libel action by the elite Omon police and the General Directorate for Internal Affairs (GUVD) under article 129 of the criminal code over a 1 February story in "New Times" headlined "Omon Slaves" about alleged corrupt practices within the elite unit.

Reporters Without Borders stresses its complete support for the magazine and its staff, who have the courage to do proper investigative reporting into matters of general interest, an activity that is at the core of real journalism.

"We share the view of 'New Times' editor Yevgenia Albats that the protection of journalists' sources is an essential element of press freedom and that investigative journalism cannot exist without it," Reporters Without Borders said.

No search can legally be carried out in response to the court order until the weekly's appeal has been heard, and "New Times" deputy editor Ilya Barabanov told Reporters Without Borders that the search order was illegal under articles 41 and 49 of the media law.

Based on information provided by unidentified sources with Omon, the "New Times" story accused the elite unit of selling its protection services to businessmen and even criminal organisations. It drew an immediate denial from Omon followed by the libel action.

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