The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the Armenian police for searching the offices of a news website as part of a criminal investigation into leaked phone calls between two top law-enforcement officials.
“The search of Yerevan.Today’s premises and the seizure of its equipment constitute grave violations of the principle of the protection of journalists’ sources, which is guaranteed by Armenian legislation and the European Court of Human Rights,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.
“We regret that the police did not seek a less intrusive and more proportionate way to achieve their legitimate goal,” he added in a statement released late on Tuesday.
Officers of a special police unit and the Investigative Committee confiscated several computer hard disks when they raided the headquarters of the Yerevan.Today online publication on Monday.
The seven-four search stems from a wiretapping scandal that rocked the Armenian political scene last week. Unknown individuals posted on the Internet the audio of two recent phone calls between the heads of two other Armenian law-enforcement bodies. The latter discussed an ongoing inquiry into the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.
The Investigative Committee said law-enforcement officers searched this and five other locations in a bid to ascertain “the method of the secret recording and dissemination” of the sensitive conversations. It claimed that Yerevan.Today posted the scandalous audio on its website earlier than other Armenian media outlets.
The website editor, Sevak Hakobian, strongly denied that, calling the police actions “irresponsible.” He said that the search all but “paralyzed” Yerevan.Today’s activities.