Slovenia has dropped charges against an investigative journalist who reported on links between members of a mainstream political party in the Balkan country and a European neo-Nazi group.
Anuska Delic, a reporter for the country's largest newspaper Delo, had been charged with publishing state secrets for a series of articles published prior to elections in 2011 that prosecutors said had relied on classified information from the Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency. On April 15 a state prosecutor withdrew the charges before a verdict could be rendered in her trial, citing a lack of evidence, Agence France-Presse reported. The charges carried a sentence of up to three years.
Prosecutions of journalists are rare in Slovenia, one of the wealthiest formerly Communist states in Europe, and the charges had drawn criticism from press freedom groups. Slovenia ranks 35th of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders 2015 World Press Freedom Index, just behind the United Kingdom and Spain.
At issue were reports by Delic linking members of the conservative Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) with the Slovenian branch of Blood & Honor, a neo-Nazi group with chapters in a number of European countries and the United States. Delic had reported that a top SDS political operative who managed the campaigns of a number of parliamentary candidates was also the head of Blood & Honor's Slovenian affiliate. The SDS went on to win the 2011 election and Delic was charged 2012, though her trial did not begin until earlier this year.
“This is a political process,” Delic told the Global Journalist in an interview last year. “I think it has nothing to do with the judicial system. The charges were filed in June 2012, when the Slovenian Security and Intelligence Agency (SOVA) was headed by a director installed by SDS.”
During the trial, Delic was pressed to reveal her sources in the Blood & Honor reports but refused to disclose them, according to the International Press Institute. Slovenia's government, which is now controlled a coalition led by Prime Minister Miro Cerar's Modern Centre Party, is considering changing its criminal code to allow prosecutors to weigh the importance of the public interest in information before bringing state secrets charges, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.