Court to hear newspaper spying case, orders OIJ to not interfere with complainants

January 24, 2014

Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, on Friday agreed to hear a case on alleged police spying on Diario Extra reporters.

The Sala IV also ordered the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) – accused of spying in the case – to allow the daily Diario Extra access to public information relevant to the case and not to take any action against the newspaper. A court spokeswoman, Vanilly Cantillo, communicated the information in a Friday statement.

Diario Extra first made the accusation on Monday, saying that the OIJ had intercepted the phone records of its journalists and the owner of the media company, Grupo Extra, over a 10-month period as part of an investigation to identify a leak inside the judicial branch. Chief Public Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría admitted that the OIJ had monitored phone records, but that the target of the investigation was a judicial branch employee and not Diario Extra.

On Thursday, Diario Extra filed a constitutional complaint at the court in downtown San José. Protesters and Diario Extra members gathered outside their San José office while awaiting court action. They celebrated the news when it was announced late Friday afternoon.

The court, however, ruled against two of Diario Extra’s requests. The newspaper had asked that all surveillance by the OIJ and the Prosecutor’s Office cease, but the court ruled that the constitutionality of surveillance would be examined during court proceedings. Diario Extra also asked that the OIJ cease any threats against the newspaper or its staff. But the court said there was not yet evidence of threats being made.

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