24 September 2002


Journalist charged for refusing to reveal his sources

Incident details

José Luis Manso Preto



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(RSF/IFEX) - On 23 September 2002, RSF condemned a Portuguese court's recent decision to charge a journalist for declining to reveal his sources in a drug case. The organisation asked that the matter be dropped.

José Luis Manso Preto, who writes for the weekly "Expresso" and other Portuguese and Spanish publications, was detained for several hours on 20 September and charged by a Lisbon court for "refusing to obey the law" as part of an investigation into drug trafficking through Morocco.

"It is deplorable that the Portuguese legal authorities have done this. Confidentiality of sources should be recognised in Portugal for journalists, as it is for doctors and lawyers," noted RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Justice Minister Maria Celeste Cardona.

"Good quality investigative journalism cannot exist unless reporters can guarantee the confidentiality of their sources. Portuguese legal authorities must understand that by legally destroying this principle, they are turning journalists into informers and thus endangering their lives when they cover sensitive subjects. Manso Preto has already given evidence in court and he has the right, even the duty, to protect his sources," Ménard said, asking that the charge be dropped. He described the situation as "setting a sad precedent" in the years since the restoration of democracy in 1974.


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