Two journalists were investigated for “disclosing legally confidential material” and a website making fun of the foreign ministry website was shut down. This was offset by the start of a wide-ranging reform of the criminal code.
2006 began badly with prosecution of two journalists for allegedly revealing legally confidential material. Sebastian Oancea and Marian Garleanu, of the dailies Ziua and Romania Libera, were accused by the defence ministry on 20 February of “possessing and disclosing” a CD of pictures of Romanian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, probably from an army source.
They were prosecuted even though the two papers decided not to print the pictures and on 7 February sent the photos to the national intelligence service. Garleanu was arrested on 16 February and held for two days. Both journalists face up to seven years in prison each. Four other journalists - Bogdan Comaroni, Doru Dragomir, Victor Roncea and Ovidiu Ohanesian - have been summoned to appear as witnesses in the case.
A website created by two foreign desk journalists on the daily paper Ziua parodying the foreign ministry website was shut down in June. The ministry asked the Internet service provider CHL to stop hosting the site and CHL agreed to, even though the ministry had no right to seek its closure. The provider also handed over information about the journalists, violating the law protecting personal data.
Encouraging progress was made in reforming the criminal code and parliament approved on 6 June the decriminalisation of defamation and insults, for which people can no longer be jailed. Justice minister Monica Macovei has begun a thorough reform of the code.