5 August 2020

Position of the Public Communications Directorate in relation to violation of professional standards for objective and ethical journalism


In connection with the publication "First, it is not an apple and second, it is not rotten. Who checks whether Boyko Borissov has been secretly recorded” of 8 July 2020 by Boris Mitov on the Bulgarian site of Free Europe, the Public Communication Directorate finds it necessary to draw attention that the content of the material contradicts the standards for objective and ethical journalism, stated as fundamental principles of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL) employees. The following facts give reasons for this conclusion:

It is striking that the author takes a tendentious interest in one of the three supervising prosecutors at the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office (SCPO), engaged in the proceedings referred to in the publication. At the same time, the audience not informed that the decisions on the case are made by all three magistrates.

The publication also contains some examples of the work of prosecutor Boryana Betsova at the SCPO for a period of several years, through which manipulative suggestions are made regarding the performance of her professional duties. For information - the statistical report shows that in 2019 alone, prosecutor Boryana Betsova supervised 37 case files and 54 pretrial proceedings. Even this fact alone is indicative of the author's deliberate attitude. Moreover, on each of the cases taken out of the context from the work of prosecutor Boryana Betsova, the facts are different from the presented ones:

"The experience of “Bivol” with Boryana Betsova" or the case of "the former Minister of Investment Planning Ivan Danov" - does not correspond to the truth that the file was terminated due to the expiring of the limitation period. The file contains a letter from the Employment Office in Paris, France, stating that "there is no information on payments made without a legal basis". The case was also discussed at a working meeting by European and Bulgarian prosecutors, who concluded that no crime had been committed.

"The signal of the "Protest Network" - the tax audits of individuals have not identified tax violations. In this situation, the supervising prosecutor, whoever he is, cannot impose criminal liability for a tax crime and therefore the case has been closed.

"The case against Hristo Bisserov" - it is publicly known that the authorities in Switzerland refused to disclose bank secrecy, which prevents the proof of the alleged tax crime. A circumstance that became known only after the initiation of the case, and in practice does not allow proving the thesis of the Prosecution.

"The trial against Daniel Mitov" - the Prosecution has carried out numerous actions to collect and analyze a large amount of evidence. The first instance court rendered guilty verdict against Hristo Angelichin, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, which is indicative of the precise work of the Prosecution. As for the final outcome of the case - it should be clear that the proof of a crime is based on the relevant legal framework, which prosecutors are obliged to comply with.

Regarding the statement that "despite these failures of Boryana Betsova, her career is on the rise" - the author should be aware of the fact that the promotion of magistrates is carried out in accordance with the established procedure and in the presence of certain conditions. The suggestion that Prosecutor Betsova is a supreme magistrate, apart from being untrue, is in itself contradictory to the thesis of the publication, which refers to proceedings instituted and conducted by prosecutors at the SCPO. In addition, Boryana Betsova has not used, nor does she avail of personal protection, despite the misinterpretations made. The principal position of the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria is to protect the good name and professional integrity of every prosecutor, investigator and legal official, an object of malicious attacks.

In addition to all the above mentioned, the Public Communication Directorate finds it necessary to emphasize that the publication violates the Code of Ethics of the Bulgarian media, as there is no clear distinction between the facts from the comments and assumptions. It is obvious that the publication is posted in the "News" section on the Bulgarian website of "Free Europe" and not in the "Opinion" section, which would give a completely different meaning to the material.

We believe that the journalists working in the Bulgarian Service of Free Europe will comply with the standards of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL) and will strictly adhere to the principles of ethical journalism, which requires pointing out the false and reporting the truth.