Ukraine : RSF condemns leak of journalists’ personal details

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) strongly condemns the publication by a Ukrainian website yesterday of the personal details of thousands of journalists who have been accredited to the self-declared separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine.

Branding them “terrorist accomplices”, the Myrotvorets site posted the names, telephone numbers and email addresses of journalists who have worked in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. The details are still accessible two days later.

“In such a climate of tension, this absurd mash-up exposes journalists to real danger and many of them started receiving threats right away,” said Johann Bihr, head of the RSF Eastern Europe and Central Asia Desk.

“It also calls into question their ability to cover the conflict, as well as life inside the rebel areas. This intolerable attack on freedom of information must be treated with the utmost seriousness.”

The disclosure of the journalists’ personal data infringes Ukraine’s constitution and laws, which guarantee the protection of personal information, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights. It makes the work of reporters in a conflict zone even more dangerous, especially if they are given an allegedly ideological label.

Anton Gerashchenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and an adviser to the Minister of Home Affairs, expressed support on his Facebook page for those who compiled the list.

We call on the justice authorities to look into this matter,” said RSF’s Bihr. “The Ukrainian authorities must take immediate action against the Myrotvorets website. Mr. Gerashchenko, who is an apologist for the site and has also called for the censorship and control of journalists, must be held politically accountable. His views are at odds with the rule of law when he approves such illegal actions and he weakens the country’s democratic reconstruction when he challenges the free press.”

RSF points out that working inside the rebel areas cannot be construed as a sign of support for the views of the separatists. Coverage of a conflict requires a presence on both sides of the war front in order to present as accurate a picture as possible of what is happening on the ground.

Click here to read the statement in Ukrainian signed jointly by RSF:

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Updated on 19.05.2016