MP's permission to reveal press sources creates controversy

Michel Wolter (l.) outside the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday
Michel Wolter (l.) outside the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday
Photo: Guy Jallay

(CS) On the sidelines of the parliamentary showdown on Thursday, a Luxembourg MP said that the CSV's group in the Chamber of Deputies was allowing a local radio station to reveal its sources, a move that has met with criticism from various press organisations.

The issue concerned a report by Luxembourg radio station 100,7 on a file allegedly kept by the secret service SREL, investigating State Prosecutor Robert Biever on suspicion of paedophilia. It was claimed that the radio station had received inside information by a member of parliament, while there was speculation that the source had fabricated the information.

During the debate in parliament, CSV MP Michel Wolter said that the party's parliamentary group was exempting the radio station from the protection of sources. Should the source be a CSV MP or working for one of the party's MPs, the source could be revealed, he explained, asking all other parties to also pronounce such an exemption.

Fierce criticism from editor and press council

However, the declaration was met with a largely negative response. On social media several users felt that Wolter was putting pressure on the radio station to reveal its source through this move.

100,7 editor in chief Jay Schiltz commented that no third person had the right to release the media from the protection of sources.

General Secretary of the Luxembourg Press Council, Joseph Laurent, also criticised the events in parliament, saying that the protection of sources had been one of the biggest achievements in the press law of 2004.

There are only very few cases in which the law does not apply, including serious crime, money laundering, a danger of terror or a threat to national security, Laurent explained. While Laurent acknowledged that Wolter's declaration had been made in the “heat of the political moment,” he nonetheless said that the request to reveal a source was unacceptable.

Journalism associations ALJ (Association luxembourgeoise des jouralistes) and SJ-L (Syndicat des Journalistes) had also criticised Wolter, rejecting his attempt to put pressure on the press.

With reporting by Danielle Schumacher