Last night’s announcement of the prosecutor for the materials of the meeting between Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and opposition leader Zoran Zaev, in which, among other things, the media are cautioned not to publish such materials as they will be punished, drew strong reactions from the public and press associations.
Initial reactions to the announcement arise and suggest to several moments related to the disclosure of information and materials of the case “Puch”, of which three can be distinguished:
- The media are prohibited from publishing pictures of the meeting between the Gruevski and Zaev related to developments in the case “Puch”;
- It brings into question the presentation of evidence in the case “Bomb”, which the opposition leader claims to possess and announces that he will publish them;
- Possibility media to publish material from “Puch” and “Bomb” is complicated with the warning of the prosecution that their publication violates the law.
The first to react to the latter through an announcement was Independent Union of Journalists (SSNM), saying that threatening warnings of the Public Prosecution “should not be an excuse to withdraw from the main task of journalism – to defend the public interest by helping the public, through the information it communicates, to make their own decision and opinion on issues and developments in society.”
Professor of the Faculty of Law “Justinian I” Gordan Kalajdziev believes that the media have an obligation to publish information on crime and corruption, and prosecution should explain which law prohibits it.
– Prosecution should explain which law prohibits the publication of such materials and the ground on which such materials were published by the Ministry of Interior until now. The media have an obligation to disclose information and material that has established and suspected corruption or crime. It’s like prohibiting a journalist, when he goes to the field regarding an event, to collect and publish evidence and testimonies of witnesses. Conclusion for the actions of the prosecution can also be drawn from the statement that the Helsinki Committee sent to the public, which indicates an impression that the prosecution is more trying to hide than to reveal and prosecute crime and corruption – says Kalajdziev.
The warning not to reveal classified information is a legitimate right of the prosecution, but it is different when they have already appeared in the public and are known by all, explains university professor and dean of the Faculty of Law at FON Temelko Ristevski.
– The prosecution cannot prohibit spreading of the truth in public. It can and should warn not to disseminate information with a certain degree of secrecy, but when something became public and well known, the secrecy stops, even if the document is still marked with the mark of confidentiality – says Ristevski.
Through an announcement, Public Prosecution reports that it asked MOI to contact the network on which the material from the meeting between Prime Minister and SDSM leader was published “for its removal and the removal of such materials which would appear in the future.”
– As always, we will act upon the requests of the Public Prosecution and ask “YouTube” to remove the disputed material. We are obliged to submit the response that we get from “YouTube” to the Public Prosecution, and they will decide whether to publicize it – said MOI spokesman Ivo Kotevski.
He says that they have several times acted upon requests from the Public Prosecution to respond to social networks for controversial materials.
Recently, a video of “Nova TV”, recorded during the first student protest that took place on 17th of November, was reported to the video service “YouTube” as “indecent” because “there is violation of someone’s privacy on the footage from 12:45 to 16:14.” Then “Nova TV” received a letter from “YouTube” to remove the disputed part of the video. In the disputed timeframe of the video, apart from students who protested, you can see the faces of the police officers securing the protest.
The Ministry of Interior then told us that they didn’t react to “YouTube” to remove part of the video.
– MOI is doesn’t has a procedure for the case and therefore it has no basis to request the removal of the video from “YouTube” – stated the MOI spokesman Ivo Kotevski for META.
Representatives of “Nova TV” said that it was attempted censorship because all recorded materials published are footages taken at a public event and represent footages of public interest.
A few days later, the portal received a response that the video was viewed by employees of “YouTube”, who decided, based on their rules, the content of the video not to be removed.