Politicians use law enforcement agencies to scare the media
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Translation: Fairpress
Recently, Rise Project, a Romanian investigative journalism team produced several materials regarding the wealth and businesses of Mr. Liviu Dragnea, the president of the Social Democrat Party and the President of the Chamber of Deputies. The platform published materials about his circle of friends and their business in Brasil, as well as about the piles of money and power circling around Teldrum, a company frequently mentioned in the media in relation to Mr. Dragnea.

A recent article wrote about a presumptive investigation led by an internal protection service of the Ministry of Interior (DGPI) which refers to “aspects that affect the social economical climate in Teleorman County”. Mr Dragnea was a prefect and county council president in Teleorman and many of his businesses (and those of his family and friends) are related to Teleorman. The report that has been given away by a whistle-blower from inside the institution mostly refers to a company called Teldrum, which is one of the great winners of infrastructure contracts. Historically speaking, the company was privatised and sold at a very low price to one of Dragnea’s former colleagues and in the past years has been in the centre of attention for its high number of contracts with the state. The report states that many of these contracts were obtained in an illegal manner, involving fraud and the quality of the work is below the standards in many cases. Another thing mentioned in the note is that Dragnea favoured his family and his close friends by helping them get contracts with public institutions.

Moreover, the Social Democrat party has changed the law regarding the nomination of the director of DGPI in a sense in which the procedure is solely decided by the Minister of Interior, without other approval. Currently, the Minister of Interior, Ms. Carmen Dan is close to Liviu Dragnea.

On the same day Rise Project published this article, a control from the fiscal authorities took place. Mr Dragnea declared that he does not know anything about the control. The president of ANAF, the fiscal authority, declared that they received a complaint and

the control has nothing to do with the article. Still, on the same day another media outlet that published an article about Liviu Dragnea had a similar control.

In this context, Expert Forum and other civil society organisations requested some explanations from the prime minister for this attempt to intimidate journalists. The full text can be read below:

The raid of ANAF at RISE Project – an attempt to intimidate investigative journalists

We believe that the raid of ANAF inspectors to the reputed RISE Project Investigative Journalism Platform has been an attempt to intimidate journalists.

The context in which this ANAF “unannounced inspection” took place (Thursday, July 6, exactly the day when journalists announced the publication of a new episode of the series of revelations targeting the PSD leader and the day after Liviu Dragnea made public at doubts about RISE Project’s funding sources), as well as ANAF’s unconvincing explanations, point to pressures through a state institution on uncomfortable journalists and independent media. Such practices are met in the ex-Soviet space controlled by Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan and are not compatible with the values ​​of an EU and NATO member state.

Taking note of the separation of PSD leader Liviu Dragnea from this action, we are asking Prime Minister Mihai Tudose to clarify ANAF’s anti-RISE Project and the current government majority PSD-ALDE-UDMR to respect freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the right to information to the public.

Social Dialogue Group

Freedom House Romania

Expert Forum

The Romanian Center for European Policies

Institute of Public Policies

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