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Lithuania12 September 2006

Entire issue of newspaper seized for “revealing state secrets”

The confiscation of all 15,000 copies of the 8 September issue of the Lithuanian weekly Laisvas Laikrastis (Free Newspaper) on the evening 7 September for “revealing state secrets” was condemned today by Reporters Without Borders as an act of censorship.

Agents seized all the copies as they were about to be distributed. They also searched the newspaper’s offices and the home of editor Aurimas Driziu, confiscating computer disks. Drizius was arrested and held overnight, and the newspaper’s website was closed down. The seized material has not been returned, making it hard for the newspaper to continue operating.

“This kind of measure, which is unusual in Lithuania, is contrary to the practices of a democratic country and European Union member,” Reporters Without Borders said.

The issue was seized because of two articles, one about the alleged involved of Lithuanian politicians in corruption, the other about the alleged role of the Lithuanian security services in the death of a Lithuanian diplomat in Minsk in August. The first article included transcripts of conversations between a casino director and a former prime minister and a former parliamentary speaker, which the security services recorded in 2004.

While held, Drizius was ordered to reveal his sources, but he refused.

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