The High Court of Albania has dismissed the Special Prosecutor Against Corruption’s (SPAK) request to seize the servers of two journalists working for the news portal Lapsi.al.
In March, Lapsi.al published details of what it claimed to be a large database that contained the personal information of more than 910,000 voters. This data was allegedly taken from the Civil Registry and provided to the Socialist Party for use in the 2021 electoral campaign.
The data provided included their ID number, name, father’s name, surname, date of birth, voting center, place of birth, residence code, list number, phone number, whether they are an emigrant and if so, which country, whether they are likely to vote for the Socialist Party, birthplace, employer, and a Patron.
SPAK launched investigations into Lapsi.al when the file containing the whole database appeared on the internet for everyone to download.
Prosecutor Enkeleda Millonai ordered the seizure of servers, phones, and other equipment of Lapsi.al in order to find the source of the leak.
The request was granted by a first instance court, but overruled by the Special Appeal Court in Tirana after the journalists behind Lapsi.al took the case to the ECHR, which issued an urgent order for SPAK to cease the seizure.
In its decision, the High Court argues that SPAK’s request may damage the anonymity of a journalist’s sources, and SPAK had not proved that it could not verify the source of the leak through other means.