European Federation of Journalists

Spain: Police seized journalists’ documentation and devices in relation to corruption case

Spanish police officers raided the headquarters of Spanish news agency Europa Press and newspaper Diario de Mallorca, on 11 December, to confiscate documents and personal devices of several journalists.

The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) joined their Spanish affiliates, FeSP, FAPE and CCOO, in condemning the police operation, which is a serious violation of the right of journalists to protect their sources. This right is a fundamental pillar of press freedom and is protected by the 20th article of the Spanish Constitution. Its violation is an attack on the free exercise of journalism.

According to Europa Press reporting, three police officers and one judicial secretary visited the media’s headquarters in Mallorca to demand documentation connected to corruption case “Cursach” in the framework of the judicial investigation of this case. The police seized the mobile phone of the journalist in charge and all the documentation gathered in the course of the journalistic investigation, as well as two computers from the news agency. The journalist was denied judicial assistance during the search.

IFJ and EFJ condemned the police operation and recalled the importance of protecting journalists’ sources. All the materials seized must be returned, they said.

FeSP General Secretary, Agustín Yanel, affirmed that “this police action supposes a serious violation of the professional secret of the journalists, recognised in the article 20 of the Spanish Constitution and in all the democratic legislation on freedom of information”.

For its part, the FAPE condemned the facts and added that “the journalists of Europa Press and Diario de Mallorca are not obliged to reveal who gave them the information, even less to deliver the documents and equipment with which they carry out their work.”

The Association of Journalists of CCOO said that “professional secrecy is not a whim of a union but is the fundamental basis on which the relationship of trust between journalists and their sources is based, whose protection is essential to ensure that they can provide information of undoubted public interest and that otherwise would not be known by citizens.” In addition, he recalled the urgency of facing legislative reforms to end the Citizen Security Law (“Gag Law”).