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IMI concerned with attacks on mailboxes of famous journalists and civic society activists

18.01.2013, 08:52
The Institute of Mass Information is concerned with deterioration of the information security of journalists and civic activists in Ukraine. During the last several months, we have often heard about wiretapping and breaking mailboxes of famous journalists and civil society activists.

We assess these events as a serious threat to freedom of speech and human rights in Ukraine. In addition, the violation of privacy of journalists and their correspondence is a serious obstruction of journalist activities and an indirect pressure on the media.

For example, on December 27, Yegor Sobolev, head of Svidomo Bureau of Journalist Investigations claimed that he was put under surveillance. He received an anonymous report on his and his family activities. In particular, the report specified with whom and when Sobolev meets, and what he says.

On December 27, 2012, Mustafa Nayyem, journalist of TVi and Ukrayinska Pravda Internet-edition, famous for his journalist investigations, claimed that somebody tried to smash his mailbox. The journalist signed up for Gmail SMS notification service, and the next morning he received four sms notifications of attempts to enter his mailbox, although the journalist was asleep at that time.

On January 14, 2013, famous investigative journalist of Ukrayinska Pravda Internet-edition Serhiy Leschenko also claimed that his mailbox was hacked. The postal service notified the journalist about an access to his mailbox from an IP-address, which was never used by the journalist. According Leshchenko, offenders were interested not so much in his letters, as in access to his computer by infecting. The journalist received a letter from a fake address of his friend, who offered to open a file that was allegedly compromising, about First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Arbuzov. The files obviously contained viruses to infect his computer.

“Opora” civic network, which monitored elections in Ukraine, also claimed that their electronic mailboxes were broken. On the day of parliamentary elections, on October 28, 2012, Opora had problems with sending emails not only to email addresses of the organization, but also from alternative mail services like Gmail and Yahoo.

On January 6, investigative journalistof Express newspaper (Lviv) Taras Zozulynskyy claimed that he found at home a bug that was sewn up in a home clothes. The journalist believes it was connected with his professional activities.

Earlier Artem Sokolenko, coordinator of Stop Censorship! movement, claimed that his conversations were intercepted. Confidential conversation of Sokolenko, in which he consulted with a lawyer how to create a web-site to post illegal decisions of judges, were even publicized in the Internet.

"The situation is dangerous also because it violated the secret of information sources. If people know that somebody can listen or read their letters to journalists, they will be afraid to anonymously provide important information for investigations. "- IMI lawyer Roman Golovenko says.

IMI hopes for a quick response of the police to the information about violation of privacy of prominent journalists and civil society activists.

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