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Info leaks from police files are serious problem, minister says

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Prague, Aug 8 (CTK) – Information leaks from police files into the media are a serious problem, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) told reporters after being questioned by the lower house commission investigating such info leaks today.

Some media thereby gain a deep insight into various cases, which might harm the accused persons who may eventually turn out to be innocent, Chovanec added.

He called the info leaks a strong pain and “cancer of the whole system.”

It is apparent that some media have more detailed information about certain open cases, which is wrong, Chovanec said.

He added that law enforcement bodies should prevent information leaks from their files.

“I think that criminal proceedings must not be public,” said Chovanec whose hearing lasted one and a half hours.

However, he pointed out that journalists were not obliged to release their sources and this right cannot be violated.

This is rather an issue for some intelligence services to deal with, he added.

Chovanec said the MPs acquainted him with the information that former journalist Marek Pribil told them a week ago.

The recordings of the meetings between government ANO chairman and former finance minister Andrej Babis and Pribil, from the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) that Babis had owned, was the main impulse for the establishment of the Chamber of Deputies commission.

MfD and other media outlets belong to the Mafra company, part of the Agrofert holding, which billionaire businessman Babis owned until February when he transferred it to trust funds to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

“I do not know Mr Pribil. I talked to him once by phone two years ago and we have not talked and have not met personally since then,” Chovanec said.

In the recordings, Babis and Pribil discuss prepared articles about Babis’s political rivals and the most suitable time for releasing such compromising material. Further recordings in which they debated the police investigation into some cases emerged later.

However, Babis and Pribil denied having ever had police files on open cases in their hands.

The audio recordings of the Babis-Pribil meetings appeared in early May on an anonymous Twitter account. Its name, Julius Suman, refers to former communist secret police (StB) officer who allegedly won Babis over for cooperation under the previous regime, which both deny.

Babis, who was dismissed from the coalition government in May due to his dubious business activities, says the recordings are manipulated and part of a campaign conducted against him before an October general election.

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