A senior official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe expressed concern on Thursday at criminal proceedings launched against the editor of an Armenian media outlet critical of the government.
The OSCE’ Vienna-based representative on press freedom, Dunja Mijatovic, said the Armenian authorities should not prosecute Kristine Khanumian for her refusal to disclose the confidential source of a story reported by her Ilur.am news portal last year.
The report implicated the then police chief of Armenia’s Shirak province in a violent attack on two young men. The Special Investigative Service (SIS) ordered Ilur.am as well as the independent newspaper “Hraparak” to disclose their anonymous sources, saying that is necessary for solving the case.
Both publications refused to comply with the order backed by Armenian courts. Earlier this week, Khanumian was formally charged under an article of the Armenian Criminal Code carrying heavy fines and up to two years in prison.
“Members of the media should not be held liable for publishing or disseminating information of public interest,” Mijatovic wrote in a letter to Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. “Unless information is legitimately classified as secret on the grounds of precisely defined national security concerns or protection of other overriding interests, the state should ensure full protection against any legal or administrative sanctions related to disclosure of the identity of journalists’ sources.”
“This principle is one of the basic requirements for the existence of independent journalism and free media,” added the letter publicized by her office.