Belgian police drop case against EU journalist
By Honor Mahony
The Belgian police have said they will return almost a thousand pages of documents to a former Brussels journalist, ending a years-long saga that was judged a violation of freedom of expression by the European Court of Human Rights.
On Wednesday (30 January), Belgian police commissioner Philippe Charlier informed the Brussels office of German news magazine Stern that the documents confiscated in 2004 will be returned.
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They were removed in a raid of Stern journalist Hans-Martin Tillack's home and office after the EU's anti-fraud office (OLAF) suggested he had bribed EU officials in order to be able to publish an article on alleged irregularities in the OLAF office.
The article, published in 2002, was based on leaked documents from the anti-fraud organisation.
Acting on a tip-off from OLAF, Belgian police detained Mr Tillack for several hours, searched his home and office, and seized 16 boxes of documents, two archive boxes, two computers and four mobile phones.
Taking the case to court, Mr Tillack was vindicated late last year when the European court of human rights said that his right to freedom of expression had been violated.
The court also asked Belgium to pay the journalist €10,000 for "moral damages" as well as €30,000 in costs - something the Belgian authorities have now agreed to do.
Mr Tillack has said he will donate the €10,000 to the relief fund of the International Federation of Journalists, which supported him throughout the case.