Top Estonian newspapers printed blank pages in protest of a proposed bill that would make it more difficult to protect sources. (Photo: V Fouche)
TALLINN - The six largest newspapers in Estonia have left their front pages blank in a protest against a proposed law that would force journalists to divulge their sources.
Papers that took part in the protest included Aripaev, Postimees and Ohtuleht.
The bill, drafted by the Justice Ministry and soon up for a vote, would drastically weaken the ability of journalists in the country to protest their sources.
“This will be the future of the Estonian press when the Riigikogu approves of the so-called press sources protection law 656 SE, submitted by Justice Minister Rein Lang,” Eesti Paevaleht wrote. “The bill would enable to imprison investigative journalists, oblige them to reveal the names of sources that gave information and fine publications just as a warning before they publish a revealing article.”
Finance Minister Jurgen Ligi defended the bill, saying it would only be used in cases where a crime had been committed.
“It is not about the freedom of word. It is so that the court could acquire information from the press in case of a difficult crime,“ Ligi said.
In Estonia, free press has been taken accounted for years. According to the international organization „Reporters Without Borders,“ Estonia was on the sixth place in the world for press freedom.