Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Lithuania: Journalist Linked Politician To KGB Sent To Jail

Posted by Info on 23/03/2011

In Lithuania, a journalist who linked a politician to the former Soviet KGB was found guilty of libel and sent to jail.

Gintaras Visockas has worked as a journalist for 20 years. One of the recurring themes in his current publication, an internet newspaper called “Slaptai” (“Secret”), is the closeness of Lithuanian politicians to the old secret police of the Soviet Union, the KGB.

“I said in my article that in the Soviet Union, all the talented martial artists were controlled by the all-powerful KGB. I never wrote that Jezerkas worked for the KGB. I wrote ‘controlled,'” said Visockas.

A court in Vilnius saw things differently and ruled that “the average reader” would take away the impression that Jezerkas had worked for the KGB if they read Visockas’ article. Visockas was sentenced to a 10,000 euro ($14,200) fine. He couldn’t pay the money and had to spend 40 days in jail.

“It is unprecedented for our judiciary that a journalist is sentenced because he wrote something critical about a politician,” Radzevicius said. “There is also no precedent for a presidential candidate of our country seeking revenge against a journalist who wrote something unflattering about him.”

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