IFJ accuses EC of intimidation over Stern whistleblower

The International Federation of Journalists has accused senior officials of the European Union and Belgian justice authorities of a “cowardly, spiteful and unjust” campaign against a news reporter.

Hans Martin Tillack, an investigative reporter for the German news magazine Stern, is accused by the European anti-corruption unit OLAF of bribing an official for information in 2002.

This led to a raid on his offices and seizure of files, notebooks and mobile phones in March this year. Tillack has done a number of stories exposing corruption within the EU.

The IFJ said it will join Tillack in a submission to the Court of First Instance of the European Court of Justice against the European Commission to have action taken against him annulled.

“We have witnessed a gigantic fishing expedition in which Belgian police have been used by the European anti-corruption authority OLAF to try to intimidate a reporter,” claimed Aidan White, IFJ general secretary.

“The campaign against him has been unjust. The way it was carried out was cowardly and spiteful, and the threat it poses to every journalist is self-evident.”

Some 17 boxes of Tillack’s papers, have been examined by police.

Tillack has not been officially charged, and no details of the allegations against him have been made.

“The fact is senior people in OLAF and the EC were irritated because Tillack was writing highly embarrassing stories about internal wrongdoing,” said White.

“This whole affair smacks of a spiteful, ill-advised and thoroughly unjustified campaign to silence him. Those responsible must be called to account.”

The Stern correspondent was responsible for exposing a scandal at the EU’s statistical agency, Eurostat, which saw millions of euros siphoned off into secret bank accounts.

By Jon Slattery

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