The recent summon of Lusineh Khachatrian, correspondent of Epress.am, to the Special Investigative Service (SIS) of Armenia because of her call to a protester caused concern of Armenian journalistic community.
On November 18, Armenian Service of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe addressed this issue in the piece “Journalists in Spotlight of Law Enforcement Agencies”.
As we have reported, on November 11, Lusineh Khachatrian was invited to the SIS. The person who invited the journalist to SIS explained that she had called someone named Emma Sahakian from her personal cellphone, and that SIS wished to clear up the reason of that call (Ed. Note: Emma Sahakian holds sit-in in front of the RA President’s Office). Lusineh Khachatrian responded that she would show up at the SIS only if she received an official notice. Later, the SIS representative called again. This time the journalist was asked to come to their office in person and to take her notice “not to waste time”. Lusineh Khachatrian refused to come and insisted that she would show up in SIS only after the notice was sent to her (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, November 10-16, 2014).
In the interview to the Armenian Service of Radio Liberty, Lusineh Khachatrian supposed that the SIS might have “launched a campaign against journalists”. She also noted that he saw a special purpose in the call from the SIS, as “journalists had always been in the crosshairs and they were subject to violence at times”.
“Bribery, abuse of power, embezzlement of budget funds and murders – all these scandalous cases use to be disclosed and made public by the efforts of investigative journalists, and not of the law enforcement agencies”, the piece of the Armenian Service of Radio Liberty stresses.
The piece also cites the opinion of Boris Navasardian, Yerevan Press Club President. According to him, by doing this the SIS tries to kill two birds with one stone. First, it makes its own work easier, and, secondly, it impedes the work of investigative journalist.
According to YPC President, the requirements to disclose source of information have also become more frequent (Ed. Note: the precedent was set on June 26, 2014, when the court ordered “Hraparak” daily and iLur.am to disclose their source of information).
Boris Navasardian notes that despite the law provides protection to the journalists’ sources, investigators and courts, trying to make their task easier, demand media outlets to show the hand. In such case, not only a journalist suffers, but his source of information as well.
Given the prospect of Armenia’s joining the Eurasian Union, the member states of which tend to violations of freedom of speech, Boris Navasardian expressed concern that this trend might befell Armenia.