Journalist, IMF Spar Over Confidential Document

30 July 2012

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), an affiliate of the international Press Institute (IPI), on July 17 expressed concern that the top International Monetary Fund representative in Greece has said he would deny future information to a reporter who wrote about a confidential IMF report.

An IMF spokesman in Washington acknowledged to that the senior permanent representative, Bob Traa, had contacted the reporter to find out how they apparently had obtained an unpublished document. “But we certainly have no ban on To Vima or any other Greek news organization,” the spokesman said. He said the document was a confidential “mission memo.”

The reporter for the Athens daily To Vima, Zois Tsolis, said Traa asked him to reveal his sources, and warned that To Vima would be denied information in the future and that the IMF would collaborate with other media, according to SEEMO.

Tsolis on June 24 published an exclusive report based on a the report sent to the Greek government that how many civil servants were hired by some ministries in 2010 and 2012 even as the government was promising the international community it would not to do so in the face of the budget crisis.

Tsolis on July 1 wrote that Traa told him: “We will not speak again to To Vima. We thought that you are the official newspaper of Pasok [Panhellenic Socialist Movement]. We have other newspapers that write our data precisely.”

Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General, said in a press release: “Multilateral organisations cannot threaten journalists by denying them access to information and demanding the revelation of their sources.” He said further: “The Greek people have to know what is happening in their country, especially at a time of crisis. I hope this will remain an isolated incident and that the IMF representatives will fully respect freedom of expression.”

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Filed under: IFTI Watch


In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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