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

Spain drops charges for mafia wiretap report

10 May 2016
epa04577209 Former treasurer of ruling Popular Party PP Luis Barcenas (C) leaves Soto del Real prison in Madrid, Spain, 22 January 2015, after his family paid the 200,000 euros bail ordered by National Court. Barcenas is accused of allegedly syphoning off money to his banking accounts in Switzerland from supposed illegal donations to the PP party as part of the Guertel corruption case. The former PP treasurer had allegedly accumulated some 48.2 million euros. EPA/KIKO HUESCA

Spanish prosecutors have dropped charges against two journalists for reporting on a police wiretap investigation into suspected members of the Italian Camorra crime family.

Charges against Cruz Morcillo and Pablo Muñoz, reporters for the Spanish daily ABC, were dropped May 9 after Spain's public ministry reconsidered the case against them, the Madrid based newspaper said.

The two reporters were notified April 20 that they were facing trial for an article published in July 2014 based on information from a police wiretap recording of suspected members of the Camorra syndicate, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. During the recording, the suspects discussed the former treasurer of Spain’s People's Party, Luis Bárcenas, who has been charged with corruption and tax fraud.

The two  reporters could have faced up to two and a half years in jail for violating the secrecy of a police investigation, according to Lavanguardia, a Spanish news site.

Morcillo and Muñoz argued that their article did not violate the secrecy of police investigation because the two involved suspects had been arrested before the story was published, according to CPJ.

Bárcenas himself, whose trial is scheduled to begin later this year, is continuing to press criminal charges against Morcillo and Muñoz for the report, ABC said.

After the April 20 court notification, Spain's attorney general, judges and other journalists publicly supported Morcillo and Muñoz, saying journalists have the right to publish truthful information relevant to public, according to CPJ.

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