Emilia Șercan | Culisele operațiunii „Kompromat” - Interviu cu Emilia Șercan | YouTube/HotNews Romania Library

Romania: Open Letter calling for swift and independent investigation…

Romania: Open letter calling for swift and independent investigation concerning publication of stolen pictures of Emilia Șercan and leak from criminal investigation

Ten European and international press freedom and freedom of expression organisations, members of the MFRR and their partners, have reacted to the harassment of Emilia Șercan, expressing serious concerns about the case and its implications for media freedom in Romania. Today, the ten organisations sent an open letter to the Romanian authorities calling for swift and independent investigations. The letter recalls that the threats and harassment of Șercan are set against a background of recent aggression and undue pressure against journalists and media workers in Romania coming from politicians, prosecutors, police, and military officers. 

Open letter, sent electronically

14 April 2022

 

Dear Prime Minister of Romania Nicolae Ciucă,

Dear Minister of Internal Affairs of Romania Lucian Bode,

Dear General Inspector of the Romanian Police, Quaestor of police Benone-Marian Matei,

Dear General Prosecutor of Romania Gabriela Scutea,

We, the undersigned organisations in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and partners, are disturbed by the harassment of journalist Emilia Șercan through the publication of her private pictures and the alleged leak from the criminal investigation into the matter. We call for swift and independent investigations of both issues and previous threats against Șercan. 

On 16 February, Șercan found a dehumanising message from an unknown person among her spam on Facebook Messenger, which alerted her that five personal pictures taken about 20 years ago had been published on 34 porn websites. The next day, Șercan filed a police complaint about cybercrime (concerning the theft of the pictures) and violation of privacy (concerning their upload on the porn websites). In the process, she also provided a screenshot of the Facebook message. 

On 18 February, Șercan discovered that a Moldovan website had published an article containing the five stolen pictures, as well as the Facebook Messenger screenshot made by Șercan, and submitted only to the Romanian police, plus a short comment on Șercan’s professional conduct. Șercan ascertained that the article was published approximately 40 minutes after she left the Criminal Investigation Service. A link to the article was subsequently posted by 74 websites, primarily Romanian and some from the Republic of Moldova. 

Șercan filed another criminal complaint regarding the possible leak from the criminal investigation and violation of privacy with the Internal Affairs Department of the Romanian Police. On 21 February, chief of the Romanian Police Mr Matei presented Șercan with an analysis of the media spread of the pictures, which would have cleared the police and supervising prosecutor of suspicion. Șercan characterised the police’s analysis as implausible and “fabricated”. On 8 March, Șercan discovered that the Internal Affairs Department had sent her complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the 4th District Court of Bucharest, which is potentially a source of the leak. Subsequently, the file was transferred to the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Bucharest Court of Appeal.

We have serious concerns about the harassment of Șercan and the implications for media freedom in Romania more broadly, especially given the context: on 18 January 2022, Șercan revealed in an article that Prime Minister Ciucă plagiarised his doctoral dissertation. The following day, she received a threat to her personal safety on her professional email address, followed by another threat on 2 February via Facebook Messenger. Both threats are under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Service of the Bucharest Police. 

Moreover, the threats and harassment of Șercan are set against a background of recent aggression and undue pressure against journalists and media workers in Romania coming from politicians, prosecutors, police, and military officers. These include, among others, the threat against the wife of G4Media editor-in-chief Pantazi by an employee of the Ministry of National Defence, in March 2022; a reporter and her crew working for Italian public broadcaster RAI who were kept for hours in a Bucharest police station after an anti-vaccine Romanian Senator kept them locked up inside her office during an interview, in December 2021; attacks on two women journalists at a congress of the National Liberal Party congress by party members in September 2021; and, judicial pressure on Libertatea and Newsweek Romania following a criminal complaint and several SLAPPs filed by a Mayor of a Bucharest district, in May 2021. 

The European Commission has made it clear that Member States “should investigate and prosecute all criminal acts committed against journalists, whether online or offline, in an impartial, independent, effective, transparent and timely manner”, as underlined in its recent Recommendation on ensuring the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists and other media professionals in the European Union, “to ensure that fundamental rights are protected and justice is swiftly delivered in particular cases and prevent the emergence of a ‘culture’ of impunity regarding attacks against journalists” (Rec. 4). 

On 8 March, the MFRR partners, together with ActiveWatch, wrote to the Romanian authorities, urging them to ensure that the complaints filed by Șercan in relation to the stolen photos, the leak from the criminal investigation and the earlier threats are swiftly and diligently investigated.  Unfortunately, to date, a substantive response to these asks has not been provided.

Accordingly, we renew today our call for quick and independent investigations. Any criminal acts these investigations reveal must be duly prosecuted, so those responsible are held to account. Particularly as concerns the complaint about the leak from the criminal investigation, sufficient safeguards that effectively guarantee the investigation and prosecution’s independence must be in place.

Sincerely,

Signed by:

  • ActiveWatch
  • ARTICLE 19
  • Center for Independent Journalism Romania
  • Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ)
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

This open letter was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

Zece organizații europene și internaționale care militează pentru libertatea presei și pentru libertatea de exprimare, membri ai MFRR și partenerii acestora, au reacționat la hărțuirea Emiliei Șercan, exprimând îngrijorări serioase cu privire la acest caz și la implicațiile pe care acesta le aduce pentru libertatea presei în România. Astăzi, cele zece organizații au trimis o scrisoare deschisă către autoritățile române, prin care cer investigații prompte și independente. Scrisoarea amintește faptul că amenințările și hărțuirea la adresa lui Șercan au loc pe un fond de agresiune recentă și presiune nejustificată împotriva jurnaliștilor și a lucrătorilor media din România, venite din partea politicienilor, procurorilor, poliției și a ofițerilor militari.

Scrisoare deschisă, trimisă electronic

14 aprilie 2022

Re: Publicarea fotografiilor personale ale Emiliei Șercan, sustrase ilegal, și scurgerea de informații din ancheta penală trebuie investigate cu promptitudine și independent 

Prim-ministrului României Nicolae Ciucă, 

Ministrului Afacerilor Interne Lucian Bode, 

Inspectorului General al Poliției Române, Chestorul de poliție Benone-Marian Matei, 

Procurorului General al României Gabriela Scutea, 

Noi, organizațiile semnatare ale Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) și partenerii noștri, găsim tulburătoare hărțuirea jurnalistei Emilia Șercan prin publicarea fotografiilor personale sustrase ilegal și prin presupusa scurgere de informații din ancheta penală ce investiga fapta respectivă. Cerem anchetarea promptă și independentă a ambelor situații, precum și a amenințărilor precedente adresate lui Șercan. 

Pe 16 februarie, Șercan a primit un mesaj dezumanizant de la o persoană necunoscută, ce ajunsese în Spam pe Facebook Messenger, mesaj care a alertat-o cu privire la faptul că cinci fotografii personale făcute acum 20 de ani au fost publicate pe 34 de website-uri cu conținut pornografic. Următoarea zi, Șercan a făcut o plângere penală referitoare la infracțiunile comise prin sisteme informatice (cu privire la furtul fotografiilor personale) și la violarea vieții private (cu privire la încărcarea lor pe website-urile cu conținut pornografic). Tot atunci, a pus la dispoziție organelor de cercetare și o captură de ecran cu mesajul primit pe Facebook. 

Pe 18 februarie, Șercan a descoperit faptul că un website din Republica Moldova publicase un articol ce conținea cele cinci fotografii furate, precum și captura de ecran ce suprindea mesajul primit pe Facebook Messenger, pusă la dispoziție doar Poliției Române, alături de un scurt comentariu asupra conduitei sale profesionale. Șercan a constatat faptul că articolul fusese publicat la aproximativ 40 de minute după ce părăsise sediul Serviciului de Investigații Criminale. Link-ul către articolul respectiv fusese postat ulterior de 74 de website-uri, în mare parte din România, și unele din Republica Moldova. 

Șercan a făcut o nouă plângere penală, referitoare la posibila scurgere de informații din ancheta penală și la violarea vieții private, la Direcția Control Intern a Inspectoratului General al Poliției Române. Pe 21 februarie, șeful Poliției Române, dl. Matei, i-a prezentat Emiliei Șercan o analiză a modului în care fotografiile s-au răspândit în media, analiza ce ar fi arătat că poliția și subcomisarul atribuit cazului erau în afara oricăror suspiciuni. Șercan a catalogat analiza poliției drept neplauzibilă și „fabricată”. Pe 8 martie, Șercan a descoperit faptul că Direcția Control Intern trimisese plângerea sa către Parchetul de pe lângă Judecătoria Sectorului 4 București, care este o potențială sursă a scurgerii de informații. Ulterior, dosarul a fost transferat la Parchetul de pe lângă Curtea de Apel București. 

Avem serioase motive de îngrijorare cu privire la hărțuirea lui Șercan, în mod special, și, în sens general, la implicațiile asupra libertății presei în România, cu atât mai mult cu cât aceste fapte au loc în următorul context: la 18 ianuarie 2022, Șercan dezvăluise într-un articol faptul că Prim-ministrul României a plagiat în teza de doctorat. A doua zi, a primit amenințări cu privire la siguranța sa personală pe adresa de e-mail profesională, urmate de altele – pe 2 februarie, primite pe Facebook Messenger. Ambele incidente sunt investigate de Serviciul de Investigații Criminale din cadrul Poliției București. 

Mai mult, amenințările și hărțuirea la adresa lui Șercan au loc pe un fond de agresiune recentă și presiune nejustificată împotriva jurnaliștilor și a lucrătorilor media din România, venite din partea politicienilor, procurorilor, poliției și a ofițerilor militari. Aceste incidente includ, printre altele, amenințarea împotriva soției redactorului-șef G4Media Pantazi de către un angajat al Ministerului Apărării Naționale, în martie 2022; un reporter și echipa sa, care lucrează pentru postul public de televiziune italian RAI, ținuți timp de mai multe ore într-o secție de poliție din București, după ce un senator român anti-vaccin i-a închis în biroul ei în timpul unui interviu, în decembrie 2021; atacuri asupra a două jurnaliste la un congres al Partidului Național Liberal, de către membri de partid, în septembrie 2021; și, presiunea judiciară asupra Libertatea și Newsweek România în urma unei plângeri penale și a mai multor acțiuni în instanță și plângeri depuse de un primar al unui sector din București, în mai 2021.

Comisia Europeană face foarte clar faptul că statele membre „ar trebui să investigheze și să urmărească penal toate actele criminale comise împotriva jurnaliştilor, fie ele efectuate online, sau offline, într-o manieră imparțială, independentă, eficientă, transparentă și în timpul corespunzător”, după cum este subliniat și în recenta Recomandare privind asigurarea protecției, siguranței și susținerii jurnaliștilor și a altor profesioniști media din Uniunea Europeană, „pentru a se asigura că drepturile fundamentale sunt protejate și justiția este făcută prompt în cazuri particulare și pentru a preveni apariția unei „culturi” a impunității în ceea ce privește atacuri împotriva jurnaliştilor” (Rec. 4).

Pe 8 martie, partenerii MFRR, împreună cu ActiveWatch, au scris autorităților române, îndemnându-le să se asigure că plângerile depuse de Șercan în legătură cu fotografiile furate, scurgerea de informații din ancheta penală și amenințările anterioare sunt investigate cu promptitudine și diligență. Din păcate, până în prezent, nu am primit un răspuns substanțial la aceste cereri. 

În consecință, reluăm astăzi apelul nostru pentru investigații rapide și independente. Acele fapte penale care reies în urma investigațiilor trebuie urmărite în mod corespunzător, astfel încât cei responsabili să fie trași la răspundere. În mod particular în ceea ce privește plângerea cu privire la scurgerea de informații dintr-o anchetă penală, trebuie să existe suficiente garanții care să asigure eficient independența anchetei și a demersului urmăririi penale.

Cu stimă,

Semnat:

  • ActiveWatch
  • ARTICLE 19
  • Center for Independent Journalism Romania
  • Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ)
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

This open letter was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

Italian journalist Lucia Goracci poses for portraits at the end of a press conference for the Disarmament Archives - Golden Doves for Peace 2017 award, at the Foreign Press Association in Rome Library

EFJ Statement: Italian journalists locked up by Romanian anti-vax…

EFJ statement on Italian journalists locked up by Romanian anti-vax senator

A reporter and her crew working for Italian public broadcaster RAI were held in a Bucharest police station for several hours on Monday 13 December after an anti-vax Romanian Senator sequestered during an interview in her office. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemns the attack on the RAI crew and the unjustified arrest of the journalists by the Romanian police.

Italian journalist Lucia Goracci and her crew were detained after the alleged attack by the husband of Senator Diana Iovanovici Sosoaca, after the Senator blocked the crew in her office.

During her interview by Lucia Goracci, the Romanian senator decided to block the TV crew in her office and called the police.

The tension culminated with the intervention of the police in Sosoaca’s office. The Italian journalists have accused the Romanian police officers not protecting them. They said they managed to leave Sosoaca’s office only due to the intervention of the Italian Embassy in Bucharest.

Lucia Goracci was searched and questioned by the Romanian policemen. The TV crew was allowed to leave the police station only after 8 hours.

Lucia Goracci filed a complaint with the 4th police station in Bucharest against Senator Diana Şoşoacă, claiming that she was sequestered in Sosoaca’s office and that the senator’s husband, Dumitru-Silvestru Şoşoacă, bit her hand.

Dumitru Silvestru Şoşoacă was heard at the Prosecutor’s Office, being also accused of attacking a police officer amid the incident with the Italian journalists. Silvestru Şoşoacă  was placed under a judicial control of 60 days.

The Romanian Government issued a statement, strongly condemning “any act of intimidation of journalists or obstruction of the right to free information of citizens. (…) Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciuca considers this incident unacceptable and categorically rejects the manifestation of differences of opinion through violence”.

It seems that the anti-vax senator wanted to trap Italian journalists by making them look like troublemakers,” said EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. “The Romanian police should have protected them instead of arresting them. We call on the Romanian authorities to investigate this incident fully in order to establish the responsibility of the senator, her husband, but also the police officers who intervened.

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

Library

Romania: Filmmakers badly beaten while shooting documentary on illegal…

Romania: Filmmakers badly beaten while shooting documentary on illegal logging

The undersigned partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today express serious concern over the brutal beating of two filmmakers who were shooting a documentary about illegal logging in Romania and call on the country’s prosecutor general and law enforcement authorities to ensure all those responsible are swiftly brought to justice.

On 16 September 2021, journalist and freelance filmmaker Mihai Dragolea and director Radu Constantin Mocanu were attacked and badly beaten by a group of 20 people armed with sticks and axes while they were documenting the issue of illegal logging in a forest in Suceava County, northeastern Romania. An activist, Tiberiu Bosutar, who was aiding them in tracking down environmental crimes in Bucovina, was also beaten.

Two of the victims reportedly lost consciousness as they were transported by emergency services to hospital in Vatra Dornei. All three are reported to have suffered non-life-threatening injuries and received treatment and are in a stable condition. All their footage was deleted and the equipment was destroyed by the attackers.

In an interview, Dragolea said the team had travelled by car into a section of the forest after a villager had reported unusual activities. After they were approached by the group, the team took refuge in the vehicle but were dragged out and beaten by four people. The filmmaker was hit in the face and then fell into a nearby ravine, from where he called the emergency services. The activist Boșutar was stripped naked and humiliated. At one point the attackers threatened to kill them.

Our organisations are appalled by this horrific attack on a documentary crew for simply doing their jobs. While the identification and interrogation of at least 11 individuals is a welcome first step, we urge police in Vatra Dornei to ensure that all those involved are charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The interior minister, the general inspector of the Romanian Police and the prosecutor general should engage to ensure the case is handled with the utmost urgency. The condemnation by Prime Minister Florin Citu is a welcome sign that this kind of violence is unacceptable. However, this is far from the first time the media have faced violence for reporting on illegal logging and corruption in Romania. State authorities have failed to dismantle the mafia-style networks responsible for these crimes and must take swift action and measures to combat illegal activities as such.

In recent years, journalists and filmmakers documenting the plight of the forest and those defending it have been among hundreds of people, mostly staff from the national forestry authorities, to be attacked by those working for timber groups. Intimidation is commonplace and whistleblowers face serious threats. The fact that many of these attacks go unprosecuted has contributed to a sense of impunity and possibility to act beyond the reach of the law. The Romanian authorities must also uphold international commitments regarding the safety of journalists and media workers, especially those courageously working to shed light on this environmental destruction. The MFRR stands in solidarity with those attacked and is ready to provide funding for the replacement of their recording equipment and support the pursuit of legal action against the aggressors.

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)