Cyprus law enforcement officials have been investigating since June 3 how the foreign media network Al Jazeera, that has this week published a series of articles and videos on the island’s citizenship-by-investment program, got hold of the leaked documents on which it built its exposé.
According to the Cyprus police spokesperson Christos Andreou, local police “is investigating whether any criminal offences have been committed and by which persons,” adding that the contents of the published articles will also be placed under the microscope.
Al Jazeera has reported that it possesses over 1,400 leaked documents, which it dubbed the ‘Cyprus Papers’, and which consist of 1,471 applications for Cyprus citizenship in exchange for investment, containing the names of 2,544 people who received a Cypriot passport between late 2017 and late 2019.
The series of Al Jazeera’s investigative reports on the Cyprus citizenship program have taken a hit at what they claim were a series of passports issued to convicted fraudsters, money launderers, and political figures accused of corruption in their own countries, but the Cyprus government has adamantly rejected the accusations and raised credibility issues, stressing that it has steadily imposed stricter rules which effectively bar applicants who were under investigation, wanted, convicted or under international sanctions from obtaining citizenship.
Cyprus law enforcement officials said they were in constant contact with the Attorney-General as investigations are ongoing.
The Cyprus News Agency reported that investigations were launched after a complaint was filed by the Cyprus interior ministry over a potential violation of legislation covering personal data.
On Tuesday, the Cyprus data protection commissioner Irini Loizidou Nicolaidou said she received a letter from the Cyprus House of Representatives, which gave assurances that it did not leak any information regarding the Cyprus citizenship scheme, but said her office would be looking into all available information and deciding on the next steps.
Cyprus interior minister to address reports
Interior minister Nicos Nouris will be providing specific details on a number of passports issued through the Cyprus citizenship-by-investment scheme on Wednesday.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus’ Apostolos Tomaras, Nouris won’t be referring to the specific cases cited in the Al Jazeera reports, but will provide details on the process that was in place at the time.