A Ukrainian court ruled that authorities should have access to the cellphone data of an investigative reporter working on stories about anti-corruption investigations.
The court in Kyiv granted the prosecutor-general’s request to allow investigators to obtain information covering a 17-month period from mobile service providers about calls to and from Natalya Sedletska.
Sedletska hosts an award-winning anti-corruption TV program called Schemes. The show is produced and broadcast by the Ukraine service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Ukrainian Public Television.
The court decision could have “a chilling effect on press freedom and anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine,” the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine tweeted.
We are concerned that yesterday’s court decision regarding investigative reporter Natalia Sedletska could have a chilling effect on press freedom and anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities should support independent journalism.
— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) September 5, 2018
The court ruling “stems from a criminal investigation into the alleged disclosure of state secrets to journalists in 2017 by Artem Sytnyk, director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine,” RFE/RL said.
“The program reported on several investigations involving senior Ukrainian officials, including Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko.”
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the court action is “an affront to the principle of press freedom that the Ukrainian government purports to uphold.”
Maja Kocijancic, the spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said the court ruling “raises very serious questions,” according to RFE/RL.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.