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Moldova2 May 2008

Court freezes newspaper’s accounts in connection with libel action

Reporters Without Borders deplores a Chisinau court’s decision to freeze the bank accounts of the Jurnal de Chisinau newspaper in connection with a former prosecutor’s libel suit over two reports five years ago that the police were investigating him on suspicion of rape.

Many Moldovan NGOs issued a joint appeal for guarantees for freedom of expression on 23 April, the day after the weekly learned of the ruling.

“The court’s decision to freeze the Jurnal de Chisinau’s accounts is disproportionate,” Reporters Without Borders said. “A libel suit should not jeopardize a newspaper’s ability to keep operating. The reaction of civil society in challenging the authorities on this matter is nonetheless very encouraging for the defence of press freedom in Moldova.”

Jurnal de Chisinau managing editor Val Butnaru said the court’s decision was a politically-motivated attempt to paralyse his newspaper’s activities.

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