[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] Tuesday ruled [DOC text, in French; press release] that Belgian police violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF text] by searching the home and office of German journalist Hans Martin Tillack [Stern blog] in 2004 after he reported on allegations of fraud in the European Union (EU) [official website]. The ECHR found that the searches and seizures violated Tillack's right to freedom of expression because they were meant to uncover confidential sources.
In 2004, Tillack investigated and wrote two articles for the German weekly Stern [media website, in German] based on confidential documents from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) [official website] alleging fraud involving EU officials. OLAF subsequently investigated Tillack under suspicion that he bribed EU officials for access to the confidential information. The searches and seizures by Belgian police followed the announcement of the inquiry. The magnitude of the seizures, which included 16 crates of paper, two computers and four mobile phones, influenced the ECHR's decision. The court ordered Belgium to pay Tillack 10,000 euro in damages and 30,000 euro for court expenses. Tillack has denied that he bribed any EU officials. AP has more.