Why this story matters:
When Slovak police invited Czech reporter Pavla Holcová for an interview, she thought it would be a friendly meeting where they would ask her some details about Ján Kuciak's investigations. But instead the Slovak police interrogated her for eight hours and showed her a prosecutor’s order to seize her phone.
Holcová says police told her she must voluntarily give them her cell phone, otherwise, she would have to pay a fine of 1650 euro and give them the cell phone anyway.
Pavla turned off the mobile phone, gave it to the police and they informed her they would try to break her passwords.
Slovak police are not very popular among journalists in Slovakia. Some corrupt police officers and prosecutors were also mentioned in Ján Kuciak's unfinished text.
The seizing of Holcová's cellphone has left Slovak journalists and publishers shocked. Many journalists are writing about police corruption and they must protect their sources to guarantee their safety.
Details from the story:
- Pavla Holcová is a Czech investigative journalist who is the head of the Czech Center for Investigative Reporting which is part of the international Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
- She was cooperating with Ján Kuciak on international investigations and helped Slovak police after his murder.
- Slovak publishers and editors-in-chief published an open letter wherein they ask the police to explain why they seized her mobile and explain which law allows them to do that. They underlined the safety of the journalists' sources and also call for better protection for journalists.
- OCCRP Network published a press release where they say Slovak police must return the seized reporter's phone immediately. "We have seen this same behavior by police in captured states and autocratic regimes. It does not belong in Europe," says the OCCRP.