In the wake of gun dealing story, prosecutors consider extending charges to Sky News reporters (sources)

In the wake of gun dealing story, prosecutors consider extending charges to Sky News reporters (sources)

Prosecutors of the Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) are considering extending charges to the British Sky News journalists who produced the reportage on alleged gun dealing in Romania, judicial sources told AGERPRES.

The prosecutors will also change the accusation to crimes against national security by the communication of false information, which is regulated by Art. 404 of the Criminal Code, which, under the headline “Communication of false information” states that “Communicating or disseminating, by any means, false news, data or information, or counterfeit documents, knowing that the respective information is false and thus endangering national security, carries a prison sentence of one to five years.”

DIICOT resumed on Thursday hearings into the case of alleged gun dealing presented by British television Sky News, summoning three of the suspects — Aurelian Szanto, Levente Pantics and Attilla Szaba Pantics, to the crime authority’s seat; the three had given statements to the prosecutors on Wednesday too.

Aurelian Mihai Szanto, the intermediary who brokered the meeting of the Sky News reporters with the alleged Romanian weapons dealers, claims that the British journalists tricked him into the scheme, telling him this was a documentary that would clearly mention in the end the fact that the story is a fiction.

He explained that the British journalists told him that filming must take place in a remote place, “hidden from the world’s eyes,” and that the documentary would mention that the location is on the border with Ukraine. The man admitted that the British journalists required the people in the story to appear as “real” as possible, wear masks and military clothing.

On the other hand, Sky News’ Stuart Ramsay on Wednesday defended his story, tweeting that information about the Romanian gun smugglers is real and the Romanian institutions are embarrassed by the disclosures: “Calm down everyone. Story is true. Nobody paid. Nobody scripted. Weapons real. Arrests happening. Gov’t embarrassed. Deal with it.”

A Sky News spokeswoman cited by The Guardian says that “Stuart Ramsay is one of our most experienced and tenacious journalists with a long history of delivering major stories from around the world. He’s delivered a robust report on gun-dealing in Romania and Sky News fully stands by the story.”

DIICOT prosecutors conducted on Wednesday seven searches at addresses in Targu Mures and Bistrita Nasaud in a case opened following allegations of weapons smuggling in the Sky News story.

Investigators found the arms showed in the reportage were legally held for hunting and belonged to one of the men in balaclava who appear in the film. More…