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European journalists enraged by Brussels espionage accusations

de Radu Rizea     HotNews.ro
Joi, 12 februarie 2009, 16:42 English | Regional Europe

The International Press Association issued a protest on Thursday, angry at the European Commission's inclusion of journalists in an internal note warning of increased spying activities. On Wednesday, the European Commission said it was increasingly targeted by spies, "who may include a "pretty trainee with long legs and blonde hair".

"The warning came in a security note circulated to human resources staff at the commission - the EU's executive arm, which drafts legislation", BBC notes. In an official press release on Thursday, Lorenzo Consoli, president of the IPA which represents the international press in Brussels, blamed the generalization made by the Commission.

"The threat is that journalists could be considered as a danger just by doing their work. Journalists look for confidential information in order to inform the public and get at the truth," he said, after making his complaint during a regular press briefing by a commission spokesman.

On Wednesday, following a press leak, the commission admitted that there was an internal security note to alert staff to the spying threat.

"A number of countries' information seekers, lobbyists, journalists, private agencies and other third parties are continuing to seek sensitive and classified information from the commission," the letter warned.

The warning spoke of "repeated attempts to compromise commission information using intelligence officers or persons directly linked to intelligence services who adopt a range of covers in order to conceal the aggressive nature of their information-gathering."

"It is unacceptable that the commission security services put journalists in the same categories as people with completely different interests," Consoli said.

EU commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger defended the security measures, while adding that access for journalists to EU officials had been greatly increased in recent years.

"The issue is not journalists, the issue is officials' obligations in regard to their professional obligations," he said.

"This commission has issued new guidelines allowing officials to talk to the media if there is no breach of their (other) obligations", EUBusiness reads.


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