EU fraudbusters 'trying to gag press'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The EU's internal fraud-busters were accused yesterday of trying to silence the press and intimidate officials after a German journalist was held for 10 hours by Belgian police.

The EU's internal fraud-busters were accused yesterday of trying to silence the press and intimidate officials after a German journalist was held for 10 hours by Belgian police.

Hans-Martin Tillack, who specialises in exposing fraud for Germany's Stern magazine, was detained by six plain-clothes police officers and refused permission to contact his lawyer, employer or family.

Mr Tillack has been a thorn in the side of the authorities in Brussels and his success in obtaining internal documents has proved an embarrassment to the EU's fraud investigations office, Olaf.

His arrest came after Olaf passed details to the Belgian police of an inquiry into claims that EU officials were paid to leak documents. Belgian police confiscated 17 boxes of papers from Mr Tillack, although they have not charged him with an offence.

Mr Tillack denied that he has ever offered financial inducements to EU officials, adding: "I am writing about fraud and corruption: I would not be so stupid as to do that."

Alberto Perduca, the director of operations and investigations for Olaf, said that once suspicions were raised that officials were being paid for information it was "obliged to open an investigation". The inquiry centres on reports of irregularities raised by an EU whistleblower, Paul van Buitenen.

Comments