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Bulgaria15 September 2008

Security agency closes corruption whistle-blower website

Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of journalist Yorgo Petsas, the administrator of the Frognews (http://www.frognews.bg) website, by members of the National Security Agency (DANS) on 5 September on suspicion of being responsible for Opasnite (http://opasnite.net63.net), a website that has allegedly posted “classified secrets” about corruption cases.

Petsas was questioned at DANS headquarters for seven hours about his activities since 1 September before being released. Opasnite (“Dangerous News”), which was being run anonymously, has been inaccessible since 5 September at the DANS’ behest.

“Bulgaria undertook to guarantee press freedom when it joined the European Union,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The arrest of Petsas bodes ill for the freedom of action of journalists who write articles on subjects regarded as sensitive by the government.”

The press freedom organisation added: “Given that an EU report in July criticised Bulgaria’s efforts to combat corruption, the government should be encouraging the publication of news reports on this subject. We urge the authorities to unblock Opasnite and to stop trying to intimidate those responsible for the site.”

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has condemned the website’s closure.

Bulgaria was ranked 51st out of 169 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index.




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