Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Court bans book by investigative journalist

20 February 2012

A Bratislava district court has blocked the publishing of a book said to detail high-level corruption in the Slovak government, the Slovak Spectator reported.

The book, which is still being written by investigative journalist Tom Nicholson, is based on a file given to him and leaked to the internet late last year. The file contained information gathered from a 2005 to 2006 surveillance operation conducted by the Slovak Information Service. The information service secretly recorded meetings between government officials and business executives, and the file describes officials speaking openly about soliciting kickbacks from businesses in exchange for government contracts, according to the Financial Times.

Among those companies alleged to have paid millions of euros in bribes to politicians and officials for privatization and procurement contracts, the financial group Penta petitioned the courts against Nicholson’s book, seeking an injunction on grounds of libel.

Branislav Král, presiding judge, sided with Penta and demanded that Nicholson submit his manuscript and all supporting documents for court review, according to the Slovak Spectator.

The reported that several groups have decried the court’s decision. The current prime minister, Iveta Radicova, called it a violation of the freedom of speech. The book’s publisher described the ruling as censorship, according to the Slovak Spectator.

On Feb. 10, thousands of Slovaks demonstrated in Bratislava against the government corruption alleged by the Gorilla file. Demonstrators hurled eggs and bananas at the parliament building where the center-right party Slovak Democratic and Christian Union forms the ruling coalition, according to the Economist. Support for party has slumped to just 5 percent, according to the Financial Times.

Protestors were said to be joined by hackers group Anonymous, who planned to attack websites belonging to Penta and the Ministry of Justice in retaliation for the decision against Nicholson’s book, according to The

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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