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Criminal File on the Case of Wiretappings. How does the Prosecutor's Office comment on summoning the persons on Motpan’s list as witnesses

19 December 2019
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Some journalists and representatives of civil society, who are allegedly included on the list of those who were wiretapped in recent years by law enforcement bodies, announced that they have been summoned as witnesses by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office in a criminal file initiated on this case. The representatives of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office claim that the file was initiated following the request of the PPDA MP, Chiril Motpan, who made the list with the wiretapped persons public.

The Director of Ziarul de Garda, Alina Radu, who is included in this list, announced, on 18 December on her Facebook page, that she was summoned by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office as a witness in a criminal case. "It’s not that I want to be a victim, but I’m thinking about how fast I’m becoming a defendant. Or, how could I have been a witness of the wiretaps about which I didn’t know?", wondered Alina Radu.

Cornelia Cozonac, President of the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), also wrote on Facebook about being summoned by the Prosecutor’s Office in relation to the wiretapping of telephone calls. "I’m asking myself: a witness of what? A witness of how public money is spent on nonsense? Besides, I think it is not bad if the people who work in the state structures still listen to my conversations, they can find out interesting things, they can change their opinion, their profession, the way they vote in the elections", commented Cornelia Cozonac.

The summons from the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office mention that the persons are summoned to be heard as witnesses, in the criminal case No 1 – 411pr/19, initiated on 6 December 2019, following the request received from the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for national security, defense and public order, Chiril Motpan. The MP requested to check the lawfulness of the special measures in relation to certain public persons, journalists and civil society representatives conducted during 2015-2019 upon the indication of the then Head of the General Police Inspectorate, Gheorghe Cavcaliuc.

According to prosecutor Grigore Niculita, who manages this criminal case, the "notification of the MP Motpan was filed with the General Prosecutor’s Office, and the ex-Prosecutor General, Dumitru Robu, redirected it to the General Prosecutor’s Office".

The prosecutor Niculita also explains why people were summoned as witnesses. According to him, the purpose is to establish the phone numbers used by them between 2015 and 2019.

The prosecutor added that in this case a check before the criminal prosecution is carried out. "If it is found that people have been subjected to investigations such as wiretapping of phone calls, we will initiate a criminal case or a criminal prosecution for the violation of the right to call. Another legal possibility to find out if they were wiretapped or not, does not exist," mentioned Niculita.

The lawyer, Violeta Gasitoi, commented on Facebook that the journalists summoned by the Prosecutor's Office should file a request and ask to be recognized as an injured party. "Without the victim's request, the authorities cannot give you the status of victim – the injured party. The status of an injured party will allow you to get the damages paid, to file a civil case. I would file a case against the State, that is, the employer who hired people who violated my right to privacy, through their actions", wrote Violeta Gasitoi.

Grigore Niculita says that, at this stage, it is too early for the persons summoned to the Prosecutor's Office to be assigned with the status of the injured party. "The status of an injured party can only be recognized when the criminal prosecution was initiated. That is, when according to a criminal case, a person was damaged. At this point, we are talking about an assumption. Even the MP Motpan did not confirm that the information he received was accurate and was not modified", explained Grigore Niculita.

According to the prosecutor, a total of 57 persons (all persons indicated in the annex of Motpan's request) were summoned in this case.

The Independent Journalism Center (IJC) committed to providing free legal support to several journalists summoned as witnesses in this case, including Cornelia Cozonac, Alina Radu, Valentina Ursu and Ion Preasca. IJC intends, with the help of the lawyer Vitalie Zama, to take all the actions that are required in this case: change the status of the witness into victim/injured party, send the file to court, etc.

Note that the President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, stated at the beginning of December, after the meeting of the Supreme Security Council (SSC), that most of the wiretaps made during 2018-2019 were initiated by the structures of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). Previously, the former Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for national security, defense and public order, Chiril Motpan (MP from ‘ACUM’ faction, DA Platform), stated that, supposedly, the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) and MIA stood behind the wiretappings of protesters, journalists and civic activists. Both SIS and Gheorghe Cavcaliuc rejected the accusations.