20th Mar 2019

Stern reporter drags Belgium to European Court of Human Rights

Hans-Martin Tillack, Stern magazine's former Brussels correspondent, is taking Belgium to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The German journalist is seeking the return of some 1,000 pages of documents that were seized by Belgian police in March 2004.

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  • The International Federation of Journalists is concerned over the protection of the journalist’s sources (Photo: EUobserver)

Officers raided Mr Tillack's home on the wishes of the European Commission's anti-fraud watchdog, OLAF.

The fraud body alleged that Mr Tillack may have bribed an EU official to get secret information.

But no formal charge has been brought against him to date.

Mr Tillack has tried to retrieve his documents via the Belgian legal system, but to no avail.

His plea is set to be filed in late April or early May.

Mr Tillack also has an appeal pending at the EU's Court of First Instance (CFI).

The CFI rejected his request for interim measures to stop OLAF gaining access to the seized documents last October.

Meanwhile, Jos Colpin, the Belgian police spokesperson, said officers are still investigating the case.

Mr Tillack sparked controversy in 2002 by publishing a series of exposés on fraud in the Commission and its statistical arm, Eurostat, based on internal documents.

But Stern magazine refuted OLAF's suggestion that officials could have been bribed.

The International Federation of Journalists has expressed concern over the rights of journalists and their sources in Belgium in response to Mr Tillack's treatment.

German journalist gets court backing in EU leak case

The European Court for Human Rights on Tuesday ruled that Belgian police violated the right to freedom of expression of a Brussels-based German journalist by raiding his home and office back in 2004.

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