Albania: RSF calls on the Supreme Court to decisively defend confidentiality of journalistic sources in Elton Qyno's case

The continued seizure of the equipment of an investigative journalist by the prosecutor’s office represents a serious risk of breaching the confidentiality of sources for journalists and all media professionals in Albania. Ahead of the session of the Supreme Court in Elton Qyno's case, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) asks for a ruling that will send an encouraging signal to all reporters who work in the public interest.

The Albanian Supreme Court will rule on 20 February on the request of journalist Elton Qyno whose equipment was seized by the anti-corruption prosecutor's office – SPAK (Special Anti-Corruption Structure). The journalist of the Ora News channel, who covers corruption and organised crime, contests the legality of the seizure of his phones and computers at his home and office, arguing it's a violation of confidentiality of journalistic sources. 

The anti-corruption prosecutor’s office confiscated the reporter’s phones, computers and other devices on 13 December 2023, immediately after he had refused to reveal the sources of his publication about SPAK’s high-profile investigation into an organised crime group, known as “Case75”. While the raid of Elton Qyno’s home and office, executed with a judge’s approval, was declared legal by first-instance and appeal courts, the search of his car without a court order was ruled illegal. As a result, SPAK returned to the journalist the equipment from the car. However, it still keeps his most important devices. 

"While we respect the principle of secrecy of investigation, the confidentiality of journalistic sources is paramount to press freedom and hence to democracy. The continued seizure of Elton Qyno’s equipment by the SPAK threatens the sources of a journalist who investigates and publishes information about corruption. We urge the Supreme Court to decisively defend confidentiality of sources in the Elton Qyno case. It would send an encouraging signal to all reporters who work in the public interest.

Pavol Szalai
Head of the European Union and Balkans Desk

Responding to RSF’s inquiry in December 2023, the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office remained ambiguous as to its attempts to reveal the journalist’s sources. The SPAK claimed that during the interrogation “Mr. Qyno was not asked to show his journalistic sources of information […], but he was asked for an explanation on the ways / forms in which he became aware of these communications - and through these methods, if he has managed to benefit from SPAK personnel, without asking him for proper names, or if he has obtained them in other circumstances.” At the same time, the office insisted that the information it sought was “deemed necessary and essential for the investigation of the case.”

On 10 January 2024, RSF and its local and international partners sent an open letter to SPAK urging it to cease inspecting Elton Qyno’s equipment and to return it to the journalist. A week later, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, seized by the Albanian human rights NGO Res Publica, requested the Albanian authorities to refrain from carrying out any further inspection, dissemination or judicial processing of the material of Elton Qyno, while the case is being examined by the Committee.

Albania is ranked 96th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index.

96/ 180
Score : 57.86
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