Cilla Benkö: We can't take free journalism for granted in Europe

Today, Tuesday 26 April, sees the start of the trial of an investigative journalist and two whistle-blowers in Luxembourg for their 2014 revelations, which came to be called LuxLeaks.     
   Swedish Radio's Director General Cilla Benkö, believes that it is a matter of grave concern that journalists and their sources can be brought to trial in the EU.

The revelations – that Luxembourg's tax authority systematically helped international companies avoid paying taxes – have now ended up in court. The accused are French journalist Edouard Perrin, together with the two whistle-blowers who initiated the investigation. An investigation in which both SVT (Swedish public service television) and Swedish Radio took part, demonstrating the extensive involvement of Swedish companies.  

It's both incomprehensible and extremely worrying that journalists and their sources who reveal such violations can be brought to trial, and particularly that this is happening in the EU. Investigative journalism cannot be a crime. This runs completely contrary to the democratic principles and traditions that the majority of European countries – but clearly not all – adhere to.

The revelation was made two years ago, simultaneously in a large number of countries around the world, and led to measures including new rules and increased insight between tax authorities in different countries. The aim is for no EU country to offer companies secret tax advantages.

Many MEPs have protested against the trial which is beginning today, while Luxembourg's finance minister has previously defended the accusation, stating that this is not a matter of publication but rather of breach of confidentiality.

This shows that we can't take for granted free, independent journalistic investigation in Europe.