The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that obtaining a journalist’s telephone records constitutes a violation of human rights.
In a ruling against Ukraine, the ECHR argued that source protection is important in order for a free press to function.
“The court is not convinced that the authorization for access to the data, which was given by the local courts, was justifiable by the ‘request in the public interest”, it is stated in the court decision.
The case was referred to a Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty journalist, who refused to hand over her telephone details to the authorities. On this issue, the ECHR said this is essential for the protection of press freedom and privacy in a democratic society.
Journalist Natalia Sedletska addressed the European Court after in 2018 a Ukrainian court ordered access to data for 17 months on her phone.
The Schemes television program, where the journalist works, has conducted research involving many senior Ukrainian officials, including Attorney General Yuriy Lutsenko. Exactly, these researches that have been published coincide with the time when the Ukrainian prosecutors requested to get the data from the journalist’s phone.
Ukrainian prosecutors say they have sought access to Sedletska’s data in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation into the alleged disclosure of state secrets to journalists in 2017 by Artem Sytynyk, director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine.