Prosecutor's Office will not open proceedings against Õhtuleht journalists

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Former Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps.

The Prosecutor's Office will not initiate criminal proceedings against journalists from newspaper Õhtuleht after they collected data on the use of former Ministry of Education and Research's Maili Reps' (Center) official car.

The Prosecutor's Office said the journalists had not committed any private surveillance activities in the course of their work. It also found that Reps has not committed any criminal activities.

According to the Penal Code, private surveillance is the surveillance and collection of data about a specific person without a legal basis.

In this case, according to the prosecutor's office, the purpose of the journalists' work was to collect data on the use of the ministry's car.

As the purpose of the journalists' work was to collect data on the use of state-owned property and not on a specific person this does not meet the law's definition of surveillance.

Public Prosecutor Taavi Pern said: "The section prohibiting unauthorized surveillance is intended to protect people's right to privacy. We appreciate the will and courage of journalists to draw attention to the concerns of society, but we nevertheless consider it necessary to emphasize that journalistic experiments and the work of investigative journalists must also comply with the law. There was no violation against this here

Former education minister Mailis Reps resigned last week after an article published by newspaper Õhtuleht alleged the minister had been using her official ministry car for non-official purposes.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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