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Lithuania court sides with journalist on source disclosure

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A Lithuanian court on Tuesday ruled in favour of an editor with the BNS news agency who had refused to disclose who leaked her a secret report on Russia.

"We are happy... a journalist's job will now be easier, they will have more safeguards," Jurga Eivaite, head of BNS in Lithuania, told reporters after the hearing in Vilnius.

The court reversed an earlier disclosure order over the BNS story from October that cited the secret report.

The report said Russia was planning a campaign to discredit Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency.

The court, whose decision is final and cannot be appealed, also deemed it unlawful for anti-corruption agents to have searched the journalist's home, garage and automobile.

According to BNS, the secret report by Lithuania's state security department said Russia was displeased with the ex-Soviet Baltic state over its actions as EU chair.

Moscow was said to be especially upset over a summit that Vilnius hosted in November where Ukraine, another ex-Soviet state, had been due to sign a historic pact that would have put it on the path to EU membership.

Ukraine buckled under Russian pressure at the 11th hour, a decision that sparked massive protests at home and calls for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to resign.

After BNS published the story, prosecutors launched a probe into the leak. They questioned six BNS employees and seized several computers.

The editor refused to disclose her sources and lodged a complaint with the court.

Prosecutors will continue their probe, office spokeswoman Elena Martinoniene told AFP. But she said they would destroy the documents seized from the editor's home.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131203/lithuania-court-sides-journalist-source-disclosure