The easiness of how the Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecution of Organized Crime and Corruption has filed an indictment for the prosecution of Aleksandar Mitovski from the web portal “Infomax.mk” raises suspicions of non-transparency and selectivity in the whole procedure.
With the indictment, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office charges Mitovski for disclosing official secret from Article 360 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code because on August 23th 2019 the web portal “Infomax.mk” published the first page of the record of the current case “Reket”.
The prosecution should not prosecute those who published the documents, but the person who had access to official secrets and gave them to the media. In addition, the case to which the leaked document relates is a high profile one that should further increase pressure on the Prosecutor’s Office to use all resources and official legal power to discover how the leak occurred. This is the only way to guarantee the secrecy of all the future investigations.
If the Public Prosecution insists on continue with the indictment, we will ask the Criminal Court in Skopje to dismiss the indictment in order to stop the proceedings. Such prosecutions can additionally create a chilling effect on freedom of speech and encourage self-censorship in the media, especially in cases where public figures are accused of abuse of power and corruption.
At the same time, we remind the media that applying the highest professional and ethical standards is a guarantee that we protect the public interest. Journalists must ensure that when dealing with leaked documents that have the potential to harm citizens and institutions, they will apply all the necessary methods, such as: fact-checking, legal consulting, establishing ethical committees to determine whether the information disclosed is relevant to the public interest, etc.
Only in the last year the Council for Media Ethics in Macedonia (CMEM) had three 3 decisions for violation of professional and ethical standards and publishing misinformation against the portal “Infomax.mk”. In this regard, we urge them to respect the Code of Journalists in order to encourage and justify the trust of the citizens.