Latvia’s special security police, the Drošības Policija, wednesday questioned two journalists with the Riga-based news website Pietiek for allegedly publishing classified information. One was placed under formal investigation.
One of the two, Agnese Margēviča, a well-known investigative reporter, was questioned for two hours at Drošības Policija headquarters about an article published in the leading daily Diena on 7 April about the fraudulent privatization of a bank. After interrogation, she was allowed to leave without being charged or placed under investigation. The other was Lato Lapsa, who was formally detained for several hours as a suspect, apparently in connection with a corruption case that dates back at least two years, when he published documents provided by a businessman wrongly accused of corruption by the Bureau for Preventing and Combatting Corruption (KNAB). Lapsa, who has already had a run-in with the Drošības Policija, said at a news conference today that he expected to be charged soon. He and Margēviča jointly founded Pietiek, which has a reputation for high-quality investigative reporting. “The Latvian police must take account of the nature of journalistic work, which serves the public interest,” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said. “Interrogations of this kind are unworthy of Latvia’s democracy. The right to information is one of the pillars of democracy and must take precedence.” “Furthermore, Lato Lapsa is being targeted in connection with information that was already published a long time ago by other journalists, who were never questioned or arrested. It proves that the police are harassing Lapsa because of his investigative journalism in general.” Morillon added: “We call on the authorities to end these investigations into Lapsa and Margēviča at once.” Latvia is ranked 28th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.