Ukrainska Pravda accuses SBU of harassing one of its journalists
Olena Prytula, Chief Editor of the Internet publication Ukrainska Pravda has accused Ukraine’s Security Service [SBU] of harassing one of their journalists. They have information that the journalist is under surveillance and that his mobile phone is being tapped.
The SBU’s behaviour is linked with the fact that the journalist knows three of the four people arrested by the SBU on suspicion of organizing the explosions in Dnipropetrovsk in April. A while after they were arrested he tried to contact their relatives to suggest that they publicly discuss the details of the events.
Despite the fact that the relatives refused to give any information, Olena Prytula writes, the journalist remained under surveillance, which is how they explain the following.
On 20 June the journalist arrived by train in Dnipropetrovsk. Near the exit from the carriage he was met by two men who shopped him SBU ID. They took him to their car and put his bag in the boot.
He was taken to the SBU and was kept there from around 13.30 to 20.00, with his bag remaining in the SBU car.
He was shown documents and video footage supposedly demonstrating beyond any doubt the guilt of those arrested. This included several fragments from documents – photocopies with pages whited out and only two chance paragaphs where one of the people arrested purportedly admitted guilt.
Although a letter was addressed specifically to the Ukrainska Pravda journalist, he was not allowed to read the entire document. Olena Prytula writes that this letter may be the reason for the surveillance.
She says that without the proper warrant they also searched the journalist’s personal belongings – the bag left in the boot. She writes that they have evidence of this which they are willing to hand to competent bodies.
In addition, on Thursday evening the journalist met a friend at the Dnipropetrovsk Station at around 10 o’clock. While they were talking, somebody came up and at close range pointed his camera at them and took a photo, using a flash. The man then climbed up to the pass over the railway tracks and took another shot.
“We consider the actions of the SBU officers to be pressure on an Ukrainska Pravda journalist and citizen. We believe that this harassment is being carried out in an organized manner in order to stop independent media publications from involving themselves in the case of the “Dnipropetrovsk bombers” which in fact contains a large number of oddities and unclear points.
The journalist knows the arrested to be people of healthy mind, calm, peaceful, unaggressive and far from chemistry. Ukrainska Pravda’s involvement in coverage of what is happening would make it possible to stimulate public discussion about the arrests. “
She points out that despite the fact that nobody’s guilt has yet been established, information periodically appears in the media with competent bodies being cited. The information presents those arrested as criminals, with their reputation being aggressively blackened.
“One can see deliberately actions by the SBU behind all these publications. Via publications in the media they are trying to convince people that those guilty of the bombing have been found, that their guilt has been proven and does not arouse any doubts. Such actions by the SBU also deliberately influence the judgement of the court which according to legislation has the sole right to determine guilt.
Ukrainska Pravda can confirm that the above-mentioned journalist is mentally fit, does not take drugs nor drink alcohol to excess, does not use the services of prostitutes, has no homicidal tendencies nor links with the criminal milieu; has no inclination to terrorism or contacts with any type of extremist organizations”.
Olena Prytula goes on to add that exactly the same can be said about all Ukrainska Pravda journalists.
“We do not exclude the possibility that provocations will be organized against the above-mentioned journalist, his family and close ones, or with respect to other journalists and editors of Ukrainska Pravda in future.
If such “accidental” events occur we will explain them as deliberate actions by the enforcement bodies to discredit and “disarm” journalists.
We would focus attention on possible attempts by SBU officers to put pressure on relatives of this or other UP journalists. For example, the above-mentioned journalist’s mother recently underwent treatment in the cardiology department of one of the hospital and is in a particularly vulnerable state. She is already worried by the SBU activity in relation to her son. Any actions by SBU officers could cause irreparable damage to her health. We will view such actions as deliberately taken as revenge that Ukrainska Pravda published this statement.
We are sending official information requests to the SBU, Prosecutor General’s Office, Interior Ministry, President’s Administration and other authorized bodies. We demand to be told on what grounds overtly unlawful harassment of an Ukrainska Pravda journalist has been organized.
We also demand that the enforcement bodies provide any information which has been gathered about Ukrainska Pravda journalists. In accordance with the Public Information Act, State bodies must provide such information to any citizen.
We believe it possible also that tapping and other forms of surveillance are being carried out on Ukrainska Pravda journalists.
We demand a stop to these actions and that official open explanations are provided as to the grounds on which a decision was taken to harass media workers.”
Olena Prytula, Ukrainska Pravda
Later in the day, the SBU issued a statement asserting that the investigative actions with respect to the journalist were lawful.