27 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
Alert created on: 22 Jul 2019 n° 83/2019 Bulgaria
Reporters Atanas Tchobanov and Asen Yordanov Subjected to Judicial Probe
In June 2019, the Bulgarian Prosecution Office opened an investigation on journalists Atanas Tchobanov and Asen Yordanov, who work for the independent news website Bivol. The timing and subject of the investigation suggest that it might come as a retaliatory measure in response to their reporting in March 2019 on a real estate scandal involving government officials, including Prosecutor-General Sotir Tzatsarov. Tchobanov and Yordanov are being accused of being themselves involved in a real-estate scandal. The investigation started after a report was published by the anti-corruption NGO BOETS. However, BOETS denied issuing such a report, and claimed it was falsified. Following the accusations against them, Tchobanov and Yordanov published documents that disproved these accusations. When they requested more details about the investigation and its justifications, the journalists received no response, even after Reporters Without Borders had filed similar requests. Reporter Without Borders is concerned that this investigation might be a measure of intimidation to deter journalists from reporting on the scandal the two journalists revealed.
09 Aug 2019
On 2 August 2019, as part of its investigation into the largest data breach in the country’s history, Bulgaria’s Special Prosecutor's Office issued a European Investigative Order (EIO) to France, where Atanas Tchobanov has a permanent address.
27 Aug 2019
Response from the Bulgarian authorities