Attorney-General Costas Clerides on Wednesday gave the green light for disciplinary action against senior state attorney Eleni Loizidou, whose inappropriate contact with Russian officials was made public in hacked emails.
Clerides said in a press conference that his deputy Loizidou will face disciplinary action. Following a probe carried out by a private attorney Christakis Christou, who had been assigned to the case, the first offence was in connection with action or behaviour that violates civil service law and abandoning a laptop abroad with government data. Additional offences included action or behaviour that potentially could harm the image of the Legal Services Department, and finally violation of civil servant duties and use of private emails for government purposes.
Loizidou’s private email account was hacked last year and some of the content had been published, causing a media storm but also legal challenges for both the state attorney as well as the media outlets involved.
Journalists who published hacked emails were called in for questioning, raising concern of potential violation of the freedom of press
Russian hacked emails
Some of the emails revealed inappropriate statements and a rather cozy rapport with foreign officials, including correspondence with a Russian official on an extradition case. At times she was advising her counterpart on how best Russia could secure the extradition of a Russian national through legal loopholes, while at other times she was asked for an opinion on how to handle a specific issue in a way that would yield an outcome favourable to Russia.
In another case, she appeared to be suggesting that the EU was determined to destroy relations between Cyprus and Russia, while also pointing out she would be a candidate for a seat on the bench at the ECHR.
Loizidou, who was suspended following the publication of her damaging emails last November, said she was a victim of a violation of her privacy.
Freedom of the press
A number of journalists who published some of the email content, including daily Politis reporters who broke the story, were all called in for questioning, raising potential issues of violation of the freedom of press.
Clerides, who made statements previously on the case regarding the protection of privacy, clarified on Wednesday that his department had no intention of persecuting journalists.
“The questioning of reporters has been concluded. My view is that reporters just want to do their job right and they have an interest in not allowing interference with that,” the attorney general said. But he also added that investigators have a job to do and somewhere the two will have to meet half way.
The case has made headlines around the world, not only for inappropriate contact between state and foreign officials but also on the potential risk of protecting journalists and their sources.
A civil service commission will examine the disciplinary charges against Loizidou, while no criminal charges have been filed.