The Prosecutor's Office had repeatedly drawn the fined journalists' attention to the rules of disclosure of information pertaining to criminal proceedings and that it should happen in line with procedural law, Chief Public Prosecutor Taavi Pern said.
The prosecution said that the Swedbank money laundering article held detailed information that could only have come from the criminal file and was disclosed in a misleading manner. Pern said that Eesti Ekspress revealed suspicions against a person who had not been handed official suspicions or interviewed yet.
"The article published detailed data on the act that was allegedly held against the person," Pern told ERR.
The prosecutor added that because the fine decision has been contested, he cannot divulge more details at this time.
He emphasized that the procedural law provision based on which disclosing detailed data requires permission from the prosecution has been in place since 2004. "If a journalist has detailed information about criminal proceedings, they could ask the prosecution whether it can be published," Pern suggested.
The prosecution decided to seek fines because it had repeatedly brought this to the Eesti Ekspress journalists' attention, Pern said. "We have warned them that ignoring the provision could lead to fines. It constitutes systematic action, and we decided we did not want to continue explaining the same provision to them and went with fines," Pern added.
He added: "The prosecution will not say what kind of content articles can include, while it will point to which parts could harm proceedings. We have engaged in dialogue with the press for years and have always found a compromise," Pern claimed.
Editor: Marcus Turovski