This is part 4 of the VVOJ publication: Investigative Journalism in Europe (2005): Example Projects.
Project: The end of World War II in Retzbach
Medium: Die Presse
Journalist: Wolfgang Freitag
Date: 30 April 2005
Description: Over a period of several months, Freitag spoke with eyewitnesses of the war in the Austrian city of Retzbach, eighty kilometres north-west of Vienna. In this place the German army executed its deserters in 1945. It was also the place where some Jewish Austrians found refuge, and disappeared without a trace.
Project: Serving the mafia
Journalist: Florian Klenk
Date: July 2002
Description: Klenk unravelled the cooperation of Austrian civil servants of the interior ministry with members of the ‘Eastern mafia’. He discovered patronage, bribing, illegal information exchange and illegal eavesdropping.
Project: The army on sale
Medium: Die Presse
Journalist: Werner Beninger
Description: Beninger discovered a long list of army material that will be sold to domestic and foreign buyers to improve the country’s financial situation.
Project: The Klagenfurt Stadion
Journalist: Johann Skocek
Description: The new stadium in Klagenfurt is extraordinarily expensive. Sports-editor Skocek unravelled the web of building companies and politicians responsible.
Project: The Rettberg millions
Journalist: Hannes Reichmann
Description: André Rettberg, a Dutch entrepreneur in Austria, put his chain of bookshops onto the stock exchange to finance his Internet experiments. Shortly after that going public, the company went bankrupt, at a loss of hundreds of millions for the stockowners. Reichmann revealed that Rettberg had taken 4.8 million euro of the initial public offering (IPO). Reichmann quoted the secret interrogation reports of Rettberg’s arrested lawyer and held an interview with Rettberg in his hiding place.
Project: Political espionage
Medium: Format (and others)
Journalist: Hannes Reichmann and others
Description: One of the most serious espionage affairs in the country came to light in 2000. It was revealed that the right-wing FPÖ had been obtaining information from the secret service for years, which it used systematically to discredit political opponents and to promote racist sentiments. Reichmann and many colleagues unravelled this, while officials were investigating the affair.
Project: Jörg Haider and his FPÖ
Medium: News, and the book: Haider: Schatten über Europa
Journalist: Kurt Kuch
Description: In a series of articles and in a book, Kuch unravelled the philosophy and methods of the right-populist party FPÖ.
Project: The Front National
Medium: La Libre Match
Journalist: Frédéric Loore
Description: In this project, the small Belgian French-speaking extreme right party Front National (FN) is analysed. Who are its leaders? Where do they come from? What are the techniques they use? FN-president Daniel Féret appears to be in it, not only out of idealism, but also for the money. And so are his relatives, because the party pays several members of his family. Freelance Libre Match journalist Loore did a lot of research on the party and its members. He made a very comprehensible factual analysis.
Project: Ghislenghien: the first reactions
Medium: Le Vif L’ Express
Journalist: Philippe Lamotte
Description: An explosion of a gas pipe in the Belgian village Ghislenghien in July 2004 caused 22 deaths. One month after the disaster, journalist Philippe Lamotte analysed the circumstances under which the explosion took place. He clearly describes the chain of events that led to the disaster, and points to those responsible. Lamotte does not look for scapegoats, but shows the human failure and negligence by the public service on all levels.
Medium: TV5 (Fr)
Journalist: Georges Huercano-Hidalgo
Date: April 2005
Description: A French investigative documentary made by a Belgian RTBF journalist, of the former Au Nom de la Loi team. In the French village Outreau, a paedophile ring was discovered in 2004. Children of one family had been abused by members of their family, but also by neighbours and villagers. There was a big scandal, but parts of the accusations appear false. Most of accused were acquitted after the trial. The trial in appeal should have begun in May 2005. Hidalgo’s documentary in April by proved that two men, father and son, both suspects in the Outreau affair, were wrongly accused of paedophile acts by a simple confusion of names and a wrong interpretation of children’s words. The documentary led to the postponement of the trial in appeal until the end of the year.
Medium: Book: In vrije val. Armoede in België
Journalist: Bart Demyttenaere
Description: Belgium is a rich country, but nevertheless a substantial number of people live in poverty: thirteen percent, according to official statistics. The reporter set out to describe what poverty means in Belgium, and how people get into this situation. For his book he interviewed over fifty poor people extensively. This was sometimes hard, because many of them experienced difficulties making appointments and living up to them and they showed a clear distrust of the media. He accompanied some of his respondents for days in a row and experienced their daily lives. Among other things, he lived the life of a homeless person in Brussels for one week, 24 hours a day. He also talked to many sources that dealt with aspects of poverty in their profession, such as social workers and bailiffs. The project took approximately a year and a half, and was financially supported by the Fonds Pascal Decroos, a foundation that supports investigative journalism.
Project: Stock in arms
Journalist: Kristof Clerix
Date: November 2003
Description: A civil organisation called Netwerk Vlaanderen (Network Flanders) started an investigation into the relations between banks and the arms industry. MO*, a monthly magazine on global issues, decided to cooperate with this organisation. Netwerk Vlaanderen supplied detailed and documented data, based on six months of research in all kinds of files and databases. On the basis of these data, the reporter carried out further investigations. The conclusion of the project was that the five leading Belgian banks had invested almost 1.5 billion euro in eleven arms producers. It was the first time the Belgian public was confronted with these activities of their banks and it gave rise to debates about ethics in banking, both in the media, in shareholders’ meetings and in Parliament. As a result, three of the banks committed themselves to change their investment policy
Project: The new elite
Journalist: Xavier Carbonez, Hans Brockmans
Date: February 2004
Description: With support of the Fonds Pascal Decroos, one of the authors had the opportunity to further elaborate upon his Masters thesis on the history of the Flemish elite. He turned this into a journalistic venture. In close cooperation with an experienced financial reporter he revealed how the process of recruiting new members of the business elite in Flanders changed around the turn of the twenty-first century. The business elite had evolved from a traditional business — old families and the inner circles of the society salons — to a modern, competence and experience driven trade, in other words: from the change from ancien regime to a meritocracy. With the help of a computer scientist, they analysed the networks of the business elite and represented them in graphics. The analysis involved over two thousand top managers. The network model was built in such a way that it was possible to update it with new data in the future, so more stories may come out of it.
Project: The men on the roof
Journalist: Indra Dewitte
Date: 4 March 2004
Description: Polish workers played an important role in the French debates that preceded the referendum on the EU-constitution. But even before Poland became a member of the EU, and their citizens obtained a formal right to work in other Member States, Polish workers were active in Western Europe, also in Belgium. The reporter followed several leads, and found proof that even the government made use of the services of these workers through sub-contractors. She found campsites where the Poles lived, and where they received their wages in Polish currency. A tip-off after the first broadcast led to the most spectacular scoop: the journalist found out Polish workers were building the roof of the new Palace of Justice in Antwerp. The reporter convinced the social inspection to let them film a raid the inspection did at a building site. During the investigation, many legal aspects of the formal labour contracts of the Polish workers remained unclear, although it was obvious that some were clearly against the law, such as the provision that regulated the salaries that were under the legal minimum wage.
Medium: Book: Insjallah, mevrouw
Journalist: Annemie Struyf, Lieve Blancquaert
Description: A reporter and a photographer set out for Afghanistan to report on the living conditions of women in that country. Through interviews, reportage and documentary photography they revealed a world that usually remains hidden: the lives of teenage mothers, betrayed wives, but also of professional women like doctors and a prison director. The whole investigation was done undercover, because the reporters could not enter the country as journalists at that time. Several times they were forced to flee from situations because of possible arrests or even worse. They also had to deal with some resistance at the home front: both reporters are mothers of small children. But the most difficult part of the job proved to be talking extensively and in private with women in Afghanistan. Fonds Pascal Decroos supported the project financially.
Project: Rack-rent landlords
Journalist: Hans Brockmans, Guido Muelenaer
Date: December 2002
Description: An Antwerp neighbourhood group had collected information over a period of time about rack-rent landlords that were active in the area. Their information was the trigger for two reporters at the financial magazine Trends an in-depth survey of this kind of renting practices in Belgium’s second largest city. In addition, they profiled some of the more important landlords who were involved in this kind of practices. They systematically checked the ownership of the properties and other data the neighbourhood group had collected with official sources such as the property register. This way the reporters produced a longlist of potential rack-rent landlords. They visited about one hundred houses and talked to the people who lived there and with the neighbours, to find out what was going on in these houses. Finally, they confronted governmental agencies and the landlords themselves with their findings. Some wanted to talk, others did not. In addition, the reporters made a financial analysis of the phenomenon. The project was awarded the Dexia Prize for financial reporting in 2003.
Project: Smoke over Rodin
Journalist: Marleen Teugels
Date: May 2003
Description: The tobacco industry is among the most thoroughly researched business sectors in investigative journalism. This introduces a certain equality of arms: it is no longer one lonesome journalist against a powerful industry, because journalists may use much of the findings of their colleagues in other countries. This project was the first opportunity where a Dutch and a Flemish member of the Dutch-Flemish association of investigative journalists, the VVOJ, closely cooperated. The Flemish reporter also used documents that tobacco companies had made public in United Stated on court order. She made a reconstruction of the ties between the tobacco industry and the Rodin Foundation. This foundation is responsible for campaigns to stimulate people to quit smoking, drinking and gambling. By funding this private foundation the tobacco industry tried — successfully — to prevent large government-funded anti-smoking campaigns. The reporter was the first Belgian journalist to make use of the unused freedom of information legislation in the country. The Fonds Pascal Decroos supported the project financially.
Project: Was Dimitrov poisoned or not?
Medium: 24 Chassa
Journalist: Alexenia Dimitrova
Date: April 1999 till July 2002
Description: In 1949, the Bulgarian communist party leader Dimitrov died, officially from natural causes. But rumours said he was poisoned. Dimitrov’s body was kept in the mausoleum in Sofia. Journalist Alexenia Dimitrova found the person who had kept the brain and the hair of the communist leader. She managed to convince him to cut off some hair and cut out a part of the brain. She had this analysed in three laboratories and the results proved that he had twenty-five times more mercury in his brain than is considered normal. Afterwards, Russian television made a film about this affair.
Project: Bulgaria during the Cold War era
Medium: 24 Chassa
Journalist: Alexenia Dimitrova
Date: April 2002 till July 2002 (8 parts)
Description: Since 1999, Alexenia Dimitrova has been searching the archives of the American secret service. She requested all information on Bulgaria. She already had 3,000 pages. That fact alone is interesting, because similar requests could be carried out concerning all former communist countries. Since 1989, she also researched the Bulgarian secret archives. In February 2005, Dimitrova’s book was published in London in English under the title The Iron Fist. It deals with the Bulgarian secret police and the Bulgarian and American secret archives during the Cold War.
Project: The world discovers its lost relatives
Medium: 24 Chassa
Journalist: Alexenia Dimitrova
Date: Since July 2002
Description: This is a cross border long-term investigation about people who lost contacts with their relatives, mainly persons who escaped the country during communism. The series traces these lost people from all over the world and reunites them with their loved-ones. Till now, the investigation has been carried out in Bulgaria, in states in the US, Canada, Kenya, France, Finland, Poland, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, and Australia. In November 2004, the author received the most prestigious national journalistic award in Bulgaria, the Chernorizets Hrabar, in the category ‘investigation’.
Project: Trafficking in women
Medium: 168 Chassa
Journalist: Stanimir Vaglenov, Nadia Cholakova
Date: July 2004
Description: This project was mainly about women who where trafficked to Italy where they were forced to work as a prostitute. The story was published in ten parts. Vaglenov and a colleague went to Italy and to Paris and Madrid. They spoke to police officers and officers specialised in investigating trafficking in women. And the reporters talked to NGOs that try to help these women. They found four Bulgarian women who recounted the full story: two did so on the record: with their face and name, a third one hidden and a fourth indirectly through the NGO. Vaglenov and his colleague worked for six months on the story. It was partly financed by Scoop. Afterwards Stanimir Vaglenov and Nadia Cholakova made a television documentary about it.
Project: Bulgarian car mafia
Medium: 24 Chassa
Journalist: Stanimir Vaglenov
Date: January 2002
Description: The article deals with the Bulgarian car mafia. After having thorough consultation of the trade register, Stanimir Vaglenov identified businessmen who have official car companies, but who also run a business in stolen cars and are connected to drugs trafficking. Three networks could be identified, one north of Sofia, one in Plovdiv and one in Varna. One mafia leader, who was involved in the car dealing through financing and protection, was killed during the summer in a bloody shoot-out in a Sofia restaurant. After the publication of this investigation, the police made some arrests.
Project: The property of candidate mayors
Medium: 24 Chassa
Journalist: Stanimir Vaglenov, Nadia Cholakova
Date: May to December 2003
Description: Before the municipal elections of 2003, Stanimir Vaglenov and Nadia Cholakova investigated all candidate mayors of the ten biggest cities in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria a Member of Parliament has to make a declaration of property, but a mayor is not obliged to do so. Vaglenov asked all candidate mayors to give a declaration. Additionally, he searched the trade register and other sources. The result was a series of ten articles. Vaglenov was awarded a prize for this project by the NGO Coalitia 2000.
Project: Mikhael Chorny
Journalist: Yovo Nikolov
Description: Mikhael Chorny is a Russian businessman who is known as the ‘king of aluminium’. He was also active in Bulgaria, but in 2000 he was expulsed to Russia because he was considered a dangerous person. Yovo Nikolov who fully investigated the practices and the life of the Russian businessman. Nikolov says this is his most important project. He worked on it for two years.
Project: The highways of violence
Journalist: Yovo Nikolov
Date: 13 July 2004
Description: ‘The highways of violence’ is an investigative article on the illegal trafficking of women from Bulgaria to Western Europe. The article gives a voice to the victims, uncovers the major trade routes, identifies patterns of official corruption, and explains the methods used for illegal border crossings and highlights efforts to stop the trafficking. Yovo Nikolov won several prizes for this article.
Project: The rector of Burgas University
Date: March 2004
Description: The rector of the Burgas University breached nearly every law on higher education. He offered degrees to Members of Parliament. One Member of Parliament was enrolled in a post-graduate course in February and graduated the following May. He took all exams in one day. The story won the prize for regional investigative journalism. The rector resigned as a result of the publication of this story.
Project: Violation of the UN embargo on arms trade
Medium: Monitor and Blitz (Serbia)
Journalist: Zoya Dimitrova, Milorad Ivanovic
Date: February 2004
Description: The Bulgarian journalist Dimitrova worked together with a Serbian colleague on this story, which reveals how the UN embargo on arms trade has been violated by arms trading companies. The arms came from Ukraine through Bulgaria to the former Yugoslavia. The journalist in Ukraine didn’t dare to continue because it was too dangerous: two colleagues were killed. The article, which was published in six parts, was produced in approximately six months. It was published in the Bulgarian daily Monitor and the Serbian Blitz. Both belong to the same press group. This project was financed by the Danish International Centre for Analytical Reporting, DICAR.
Journalist: Elena Kodinova, Borislav Petrov
Date: October 2004
Description: The reporters investigated several profiles of 13 and 14-year old girls at different dating sites on the Internet. The journalists arranged meetings with some of the people that had expressed an obvious interest in having sex with the virtual girls. They sent young women who looked like minors to the meeting. The meetings were registered on video and audio. The three men that came to the rendezvous were fully aware that they were proposing sex to minors, which is forbidden under the Bulgarian Penal Code. One of the men was a senior manager at a big insurance company. Another was an aspiring young politician in his late thirties, a member of the municipal council of a large Bulgarian city. Descriptions of the meetings were published in the newspaper and the tapes were broadcasted on one of the national television networks.
Project: The dark side of Bulgarian Christmas
Journalist: Elena Kodinova, Borislav Petrov
Date: December 2004
Description: Orphans in an orphanage in a small Bulgarian town in the north, most of whom are mentally disabled, were selling their bodies for 1 to 2.5 euro on the street in front of the orphanage. The teachers knew about this as did the municipality and the whole town community. However, no measures had been taken at all. The reporters set up a person they knew and sent him by car to the orphanage. A boy and a girl approached him and offered sexual favours in broad daylight, while the teachers were watching from the windows. The children were driven straight to the local municipal office. The person who was in charge of the orphanage at the municipality denied there was any proof of prostitution on the streets in front of the orphanage. It turned out the orphans had been abused for a long time and in many ways. A homosexual from a bigger town nearby regularly took some of the boys to his sex parties.
Project: Kidney for sale
Journalist: Elena Kodinova, Borislav Petrov
Date: March 2005
Description: This investigation started after the death of a boy in an orphanage in a small town in Bulgaria. He had a scar on his body and he only had one kidney. However, nowhere in his medical file were there signs that he had needed a kidney transplantation. Through ads on the Internet, the reporters came across two people who were selling a kidney for 25,000 euro. After this discovery, they met a person who sold email-addresses, 2,000 dollars for each address, of potential donors of kidneys. Both meetings and conversations were taped. Descriptions of the meetings were published in the newspaper and the tapes were broadcast on one of the national television networks. The second part of the story focussed on clinics where kidneys were transplanted from live unrelated donors to Israeli citizens who lived in the neighbouring countries of Bulgaria. There are rumours that organised transplantation tourism exists with Bulgarian citizens who are trafficked abroad as paid donors. The reporters contacted a hospital in Austria where the staff promised to do a transplantation of a kidney from a dead donor to a Bulgarian citizen, on the condition the patient brought a live donor to their clinic ready to donate his kidney to another person on their waiting list. The hospital charged 50,000 euro for the whole procedure. Shortly after the publication Bulgarian police, in cooperation with their Turkish colleagues, busted an organised crime ring that trafficked Bulgarian people ready to sell their kidneys in Turkey.
Project: The Dan Lynge Saga
Medium: Extra Bladet and TV2 (Bastard Film)
Journalist: Jeppe Facius, Anders-Peter Mathiasen, Miki Mistrati, Thomas Stokholm
Date: May 2002 to 2004
Description: The reporters came into contact with Dan Lynge, a criminal and former rocker who, as a means of avoiding prosecution, had become a police spy in the circles of the motorcycle gangs Bandidos and the Hells Angels. These gangs were fighting a war amongst themselves in Scandinavia in the nineties. Dan Lynge had been a spy in their midst for more than ten years. He tipped the police on several occasions that assaults with heavy weapons — anti-tank missiles — were being planned. The police, however, did not interfere. Two people were killed in these assaults and many more could have been. The reporters subsequently proved that several leading police officers and top civil servants knew about the cooperation with Lynge. The investigative project was a long-lasting and close cooperation between the newspaper Extra Bladet, the production company Bastard Film and the commercial television station TV2. A formal contract was signed between the three parties about concurrent publication of the first scoop. The topic has been in the centre of public attention for several years, ever since the first publications in 2002. The reporters won the Cavling award, the most prestigious journalism award in Denmark, in 2004. A state commission that investigated the matter confirmed their stories later.
Project: How Denmark got into Iraq
Medium: Berlingske Tidende
Journalist: Michael Bjerre and Jesper Larsen
Date: 22 February 2004
Description: According to the Danish government, the decision to support the attack on Iraq was based solely on open sources. However, the reporters showed that the Danish military intelligence service based their reports on the Iraqi threat not on their own sources, but on second-hand — and secret — material of the British and American intelligence services. Denmark did not have any firsthand knowledge about Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. By publishing these stories that were based on leaked documents the reporters risked a sentence of two years in jail for revealing state secrets. Protests against a possible sentence were even published by competing newspapers, because by publishing the exposé the newspaper had given the population a unique insight into one of the most important political decisions taken in Denmark in recent years. Eventually, instead of being prosecuted, the reporters were nominated for the country’s most prestigious journalism award, the Cavling, in 2004.
Project: Distance Heating leaking
Medium: Fyens Stiftstidende
Journalist: Poul Kjærgaard
Description: The story started when the local district heating company in the town of Middelfart appointed a board member as the new director without the legally required support from the customers. When the reporter continued to dig, he found a lot more that had not gone according to the rules: big expense accounts on drinks and tobacco, foreign travel of board members to a conference — but their names did not occur on the list of participants, etc. One of the board members was a police officer, who had not reported the fee paid for his activities as a board member to his employer, as is required by law. The articles ran over a period of months, revealing new scandals every time. The reporter made extensive use of the laws that grant access to public information.
Project: Non-attending politicians
Journalist: Maria Ewald
Description: The 27 members of the regional council of the island of Bornholm have a varying rate of attendance at meetings. They receive at least 9,000 euro a year in compensation, even if they are absent at many meetings. The reporter analysed the 132 minutes of the meetings during a whole year and proved that the representatives of one party showed up less than others. Fairness in dealing with the representatives involved was essential for the journalist, because in a small island community one may meet them at the supermarket, or need them as a source a week later. So they all got a chance to explain why they were absent. All the figures were published on the radio station’s web site. The attendance increased substantially in the months after the broadcast. The story was nominated for the Spade, the award for local and regional investigative journalism.
Project: The story of Nicklas
Journalist: Mette Cramon and Anne Dorthe Holm
Date: 2003 and 2004
Description: The reporters made a reconstruction of the life of a nine-year old son of drug addicts, Nicklas, and his grandmother’s struggle against the authorities in order to give him a better life. The authorities put the boy in a foster home, although the grandparents were willing and able to take care of him. Because they were authorised by both the parents and the grandparents, the reporters had access to all the case documents at several authorities, the foster home and the schools involved. They talked to teachers, social workers, psychologists, politicians, and of course with the leading characters of their story. They visited all the places where Nicklas spent part of his life. Over a period of eight weeks, they accumulated a tremendous amount of details of the case. The project was an exercise in ‘narrative journalism’. The reporters had just done a course in this specific genre. They won 2004’s Spade, the award for local and regional investigative journalism.
Project: Weapons transports on Danish ships
Medium: TV2 Øst
Journalist: Jessica Skovmose
Description: After a tip-off that a Danish vessel had been shipwrecked in the Mediterranean with a cargo of weapons, and rumours that some ship-owners made a lot of money with this type of cargo, the reporter set out to investigate whether this was true. It turned out to be the truth. In Denmark, exporting weapons to countries embargoed by United Nations, the European Union or the OSCE (the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe) is against the law, but transporting weapons to these countries is not. It appeared that the political parties that had voted against a proposal in the Danish Parliament to make these transports illegal had received financial support from the ship-owners’ association. As a result of the broadcast, this law has been changed: the transports are illegal as well. The story was nominated for the Spade, the award for local and regional investigative journalism.
Project: A Dane on Guantánamo Bay
Journalist: Mathias Seidelin
Date: February 2004
Description: One of the prisoners on Guantánamo Bay turned out to be Danish. The reporters found out his identity and made a reconstruction of his life in the city Aarhus. The man, whose father is Algerian, was well-integrated in Denmark. He studied chemistry at the local university, and he played techno music in a band with a couple of friends. But in the year 2000, he suddenly became very religious, started attending services at a conservative mosque in Gjellerup, and finally went to Afghanistan to train for the religious war, the jihad. There he was captured by American troops and deported to Guantánamo Bay, the American base on Cuba, where he was kept without access to a lawyer or a judge. He was released some time later.
Project: Tied down — treatment by force in psychiatry
Journalist: Hans Drachman
Date: 2002 to 2004
Description: A tip-off led the reporter to a case of a patient in a psychiatric hospital who had been physically restrained for 28 days in a row, 24 hours a day. During a period of two years, the reporter discovered many more cases of practices, which were often against the law. The publications often generated new tip-offs about cases. An interest group of patients also supplied a lot of information. Doctors have to file a formal record for every case of involuntary treatment. However, a request to obtain lists of such cases failed, even when the reporter was willing to accept an anonymised version. Statistics were kept on the number of cases, but not on the period of restraint. A state agency was willing to supply statistics, but only for a huge fee. The newspaper declined. After questions in Parliament, the Health Department now publishes these statistics on an annual basis. The record case concerned a man who had been in restraint for 225 days.
Project: Finding the general
Medium: DR Radio / Jyllands Posten
Journalist: Anna Lea Landsted
Date: January 2004
Description: A former Iraqi general had requested political asylum in Denmark, but during the asylum procedure it became clear that maybe he had been involved in war crimes. The general was not arrested, but he was not allowed to leave the country either. However, he disappeared. The freelance reporter started asking around in Denmark in Iraqi and Kurdish circles. She ultimately tracked him down and reconstructed his story. Who was this man, what had he done, where had he stayed and how had he left the country? Parts of the story she dug up in Iraq — where she interviewed his sister and several other relatives, former army officer colleagues and his former bodyguard — and parts she dug up in the Emirates.
Project: No black drivers, please
Medium: Fyens Stiftstidende
Journalist: Pernille Frøkjær and Peter Rasmussen
Date: 2 November 2003
Description: In the city of Odense there are two taxi companies. It was a known fact that one of these did not employ any immigrant drivers. Consequently, people called this company because they did not want a black driver. But how could one prove this story? Two reporters made dozens of taxi rides and talked extensively with the drivers. They also talked with dozens of taxi customers who openly confirmed that they had their reasons for not wanting an immigrant driver. They found immigrants that had applied for a job as a taxi driver, and were refused because there were no vacancies, whereas one day later somebody else would be hired. As a result of the publication, major taxi customers said that they did not want to deal with this company anymore, as long as the company would not change its policy. The publication led to a huge amount of letters from readers, both vigorously in favour and vigorously against the policy of the taxi company. Obviously, the newspaper’s airing of this informal public knowledge forced people to recognise their own viewpoints.
Project: Poisonous pipes
Medium: Danske Kommuner
Journalist: Kaare Gotfredsen
Description: It started with a routine article on pipelines for municipal drinking water networks. It turned out that not only old pipes caused problems, but new ones as well: soil pollution may penetrate into the plastic pipes, causing polluting substances to mix in with the drinking water. The reporter found dozens of cases of water pollution through these pipes. Pollutant concentrations in the water came up to as much as five thousand times the legal norm. The investigation resulted in about twenty articles, over a period of three months. At the second Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Copenhagen, in 2003, the reporter joined forces with some foreign colleagues to extend the project internationally. It became apparent that these kinds of pipes are in use all over Europe.
Project: The Finnish Iraq-gate
Journalist: Pekka Ervasti
Description: The Finnish Iraq-gate was a series of articles on the so-called Iraq leak, which led to the resignation of Prime Minister Anneli Jäätteenmäki. The author revealed that Jäätteenmäki had obtained secret documents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the meeting in Washington DC between the US president George W. Bush and the then Prime Minister of Finland, Paavo Lipponen in 2002. In a television debate before the parliamentary elections of 2003, Jäätteenmäki denied several times that she had used these documents. By using his exceptional resources and his journalistic skills, the reporter was able to prove the contrary bit by bit, and beat all the other media that were chasing the same story.
Project: Estates of Haka Construction Co.
Medium: Rakennuslehti (trade magazine for the building industry)
Journalist: Mikko Kortelainen
Date: 2002 and 2003
Description: The reporter revealed that several office and apartment buildings were sold below current prices on a project of Haka Construction Company. The reporter also discovered that one of the people working for the project organisation was a co-owner of a small construction company that had bought property from the project. He ingeniously used the fact that his magazine was one of the creditors of the project. This enabled him to get hold of the annual reports of the project organisation. He also used a wide variety of resources in linking the stories, which were breaking news and were cited by the big Finnish dailies.
Project: Poisonous chemicals at the Vuosaari harbour
Medium: Helsingin Sanomat
Journalist: Jussi Laitinen
Description: In a series of articles the reporter revealed how the Helsinki City Harbour officials had seriously neglected environmental regulations and laws. When the harbour that was being constructed at Vuosaari in Eastern Helsinki, was dredged, several poisonous chemicals where found in the seabed of the harbour area. By neglecting the regulations, the harbour officials endangered much of the marine life around the future harbour area and diminished the potential recreational use of the surrounding waters.
Project: The Sonera scandal
Medium: Helsingin Sanomat
Journalist: Anssi Miettinen, Tuomo Pietiläinen
Date: 2002 and 2003
Description: At the end of 2001, the reporters got a hot tip that the Finnish telecom company Sonera’s security department had been tracing the telephone records of the company’s top management. The aim was to find the source of leaks to Helsingin Sanomat and other media on sensitive matters within the company. After a year of investigations, the first article on the suspected breach of telecommunications privacy was published. The research for the article, and its follow-up, was done with patience and resilience. A practical problem was that they could of course not use their phones, because their phone calls would be traced. So they used public phones instead. Without the work of these two journalists, the police probably wouldn’t have investigated the case, which has turned out to be the largest telecom crime case in Finland.
Project: Arms trade Ukrainian style
Medium: Helsingin Sanomat
Journalist: Tanja Vasama
Description: After a long and thorough investigation, the reporter was able to reveal that two Finns were involved in an international arms trade ring run by the originally Ukrainian businessman Leonid Minin. At the end of 1990s, he had trafficked small and heavy arms from Ukraine to Liberia, Sierra Leone and several other countries in Western Africa. Minin breached the UN arms embargo by trafficking arms into Africa. A Finnish businessman was also involved in the illegal trade, and in addition, Minin had hired a Finnish pilot to fly the arms to their destination. Officially, the men were involved in the timber trade, but with the help of court records from Italy the reporter showed that the real cargo consisted of arms.
Project: Country of origin unknown
Medium: Book: Alkupermaa tuntematon
Journalist: Elina Grundström (text), Yrjö Tuunanen (photos)
Description: ‘Country of origin unknown’ is a book about global trade relations. It traces the production chain of shoes that are made in Vietnam by a Taiwanese-owned company; subsequently they are imported and sold in Finland by one of the largest clothes retailers, the Kesko Corporation. The book is a fascinating story on how a Taiwanese shoemaker wants to make it big in China. It describes the lousy conditions and long working hours of the Vietnamese girls who work in the shoe factory. The book divulges a typical ‘no logo’ production chain from the inside. Its main goal is to elucidate on the inner workings of a truly global industry. The book was the result of almost two years of in-depth research work.
Project: The student union empire
Medium: MOT, Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE TV1
Journalist: Simo Sipola
Date: 20 September 2004
Description: The thirty-minute documentary investigates in-depth how the Helsinki University Student Union has managed its considerable wealth. The Student Union, which is often referred to as the wealthiest student union in the world, owns several buildings, which contain office and business premises, in downtown Helsinki. It also runs a large travel agency that specialises in cheap tickets for students and young persons. The programme reveals how the profits from sales of estate and buildings have not been properly reported in the accounts of the group of companies owned by the Student Union. It also shows how the top managers of the group of companies have enjoyed considerable benefits that have often gone unreported or have been falsely reported to the owners, who are the students.
Project: No right to appeal
Medium: MOT, Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE TV1
Journalist: Matti Virtanen
Date: 15 September 2003
Description: The thirty-minute documentary tells the story of a British father who fought for the custody of his two children who were abducted by their Finnish mother. It revealed how the Finnish judicial system, including the Supreme Court, denied the father his rights of custody and visitation. The documentary showed a senior Finnish legal officer at the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights who attempted to influence the domestic courts’ decision with a written statement. His letter gave the domestic courts advice on how the Convention of Human Rights should be applied in this particular case. The documentary is based on a through documentation of the case, using court records, interviews and private letters.
Project: The secret military road to the West
Medium: Ykkösdokumentti, Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE TV1
Journalist: Olli Ainola, Ari Lehikoinen
Date: 25 April 2004
Description: The 55 minute documentary explores the largely unknown Finnish intelligence cooperation with the West, especially the United States, during the Cold War era. The documentary sheds new light on the extent of cooperation of the Finnish military intelligence with the US. The authors make extensive use of documents from archives in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany. The documents reveal how military intelligence cooperation worked during the Cold War. With the help of documents, interviews and rare film material the documentary tells a fascinating story. It manifests unequivocally the kind of risks that where involved in the exchange of highly confidential military information between Finland, the United States and Germany.
Project: Contaminated Municipal Water
Medium: Sulkava Lehti (local newspaper)
Journalist: Kalle Keränen
Date: 1998 and 1999
Description: Kalle Keränen, the editor-in-chief of a small local paper in Central Finland, wrote a series of articles on the municipal water catchment area of the Sulkava municipality that was contaminated by chloric fenols. The water catchment was founded on the same place where there had previously been a sawmill. The chemicals had contaminated both the ground and the water resources beneath it. Keränen’s articles were based on months of scrupulous research and contacts with reluctant local officials. The research unravelled a series of unlucky coincidences, accidents, ignorance and negligence. Worst of all, the officials tried to cover up the mistakes they had made, but did not succeed in doing so, thanks to Keränen’s work. The result of the articles was that the water catchment was closed.
Project: When Prescription Drugs Kill
Medium: Satakunnan Kansa (local newspaper)
Journalist: Harri Aalto
Description: The series of articles showed how a circle of hashish smokers turned into a network of drug abusers that involved dozens of teenagers and youngsters in their early twenties. The youths, living in and around the town of Pori in Western Finland, got hold of the drugs through a doctor with generous prescription practices. The drugs, anti-depressants, strong painkillers and substitute drugs used in the treatment of heroin addicts, caused a series of deaths in 2002 and 2003. The reporter traced the origin of the drugs to one single medical practitioner who was prescribing drugs to a small number of individuals who in turn sold most of the drugs on the street. Thanks to these articles national health officials retracted the doctor’s licence.
Project: French hostages in Iraq
Journalist: José Garçon
Date: 5 October 2004
Description: After the two French journalists Christian Cesnot and Georges Malbrunot had been held hostage for 40 days and after a month of failed initiatives by the French diplomacy to obtain their release, the eccentric parliamentarian Didier Julia announced that he would be able to bring the hostages home. The French presidency and government immediately distanced themselves from what they called a ‘private action’ of Julia, saying that they only learned about it from the press. When Julia returned from Syria with empty hands, president Chirac used the word ‘fool’ and Prime Minister Raffarin accused him of irresponsible behaviour. The next day however, Libération showed evidence that the French embassy in Damascus wrote to the Syrian ministry of Foreign Affairs to obtain a visa for Julia, which proved the government knew about Julia’s plan beforehand.
Project: The words of the imam
Medium: Lyon Mag’
Journalist: Thomas Nardone
Date: 7 April 2004
Description: An imam, who had preached very traditional readings of the Koran for decades in the Lyon suburb les Minguettes, gave an interview to a local magazine. He expressed hope that France would become a Muslim country. He condemned music because ‘it makes girls think of sex’ and stated that a woman, who should always obey her husband, could be beaten if necessary. Following the publication, the imam was expelled from France, and the magazine Lyon Mag’ was sued for ‘apology of crime’. Nardone’s job was far from perfect — his questioning was very biased and, given the imam’s poor understanding of French, he should have used an interpreter instead of inventing the meaning of certain words himself. But the fact that he persuaded the imam to an interview was an important step forward in the discussion about the ‘Islam des banlieues’ (the Islam of the suburbs). Lyon Mag’ strongly condemned the imam’s expulsion afterwards.
Project: Radicalisation in Trappes
Medium: Envoyé Spécial (France 2)
Journalist: Frédéric Brunnquell
Date: 12 February 2004
Description: Trappes is a small town, 35 kilometres from Paris. Its population is mostly of Algerian and West African origin. In the post 9-11 discussions about the radicalisation of Islam, Trappes was mentioned as one of France’s most alarming examples. For four months, Frédéric Brunnquell merged himself into the daily life of Trappes. He focussed on the role of the local Islamic party, UMT. Even before the programme was broadcasted, UMT tried to play down the impact of the images of Muslim men instructing girls on how to behave during a demonstration.
Project: The explosion of AZF
Medium: Le Figaro
Journalist: Marc Mennessier
Date: 16 January 2003
Description: On 21 September 2001, a chemical factory in Toulouse exploded, killing 30. Official investigations quickly led to the near certain conclusion that it had been an accident. However, in the aftermath of what had happened ten days earlier in the US, there was a general tendency to avoid panic more than ever. Other media blamed Mennessier and his newspaper for insisting on the more dark sides of the investigation. More than a year later, Mennessier re-ignited the debate, when he revealed a number of contradictions in the investigation reports and casted doubts on the background of an Algerian contractor who had been present at the site less than an hour before the explosion.
Project: Torture during the Algerian War
Medium: Le Monde
Journalist: Florence Beaugé
Date: 4 May 2002
Description: Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder and leader of the extreme right wing political party Front National, served in the French Foreign Legion during the Algerian War (1954-1962). Accusations of torture have always surrounded Le Pen, but there was never any first-hand testimony. During the presidential campaign in 2002, Le Monde presented the detailed stories of four former members of the Algerian political party FLN. They had recognised Le Pen as the man who tortured them during the battle of Algiers in 1957. Subsequently, Le Pen sued the newspaper and the journalist for libel, but they were acquitted of the charge. Recently, the French court confirmed Le Monde and Beaugé had acted in ‘good faith’.
Project: Mouth expenses
Medium: Le Canard Enchainé
Date: 15 February 2002
Description: During the period that the current French President Jacques Chirac was mayor of Paris (1987-1995), he and his wife spent over 600 euro (4,000 francs) a day on food. Almost half of their grocery bills (approximately 2 million euro in total) were paid in cash. The Canard laid their hands on a secret report on this seemingly excessive use of tax money. After the publication, the current mayor of Paris, Betrand Delanoë, pressed charges against Chirac. The case is still pending. On 7 July 2004, the Canard published additional evidence of the corrupted practices of mayor Chirac, this time in relation to free plane tickets for himself, his relatives, staff, and even for journalists who covered his presidential campaign in 2002.
Project: Revelations on Clearstream
Medium: Book: Revelation$, Book: La Boite Noire and L’affaire Clearstream raconté à un ouvrier de chez Daewoo (television, Canal+)
Journalist: Denis Robert
Date: 2001 to 2003
Description: The independent journalist Denis Robert — originally from Libération — first published two books on the Luxembourg clearing bank Clearstream, accusing this ‘bank of all banks’ of money laundering. Because he was not satisfied with the impact of his writings on the public, Robert dedicated three years more on a television documentary called ‘The story of Clearstream explained to a worker at Daewoo’. In the 65 minutes of his film, Robert focuses on his theory that there is a link between Clearstream and the closing of a Daewoo television factory in the French region of le Mosselle. The film is as comprehensible as can be, and in spite of many lawsuits by Clearstream, Robert didn’t have to retract his allegations. As for his books, he based his story on the information that was given by a ‘man on the inside’, a former employee of Clearstream.
Project: Cancer in Normandie
Medium: Le Figaro
Journalist: Cyrille Louis
Date: 27 October 2004
Description: Cyrille Louis compared the accessibility of medical care for cancer patients in the region of Basse-Normandie, among other things by comparing hospital data. He is specialised in medical topics. He found out there were huge differences in this respect between different geographical areas. However, what was more surprising, was the factual overview of waiting lists, the diverging travelling distances and, as a consequence, the ensuing death rates. These data, combined with the interviews with patients, relatives and doctors gave the investigation a strong impact.
Project: The sociology of school naming
Medium: Le Monde
Journalist: Luc Bronner
Date: 2 September 2004
Description: When a new school is about to open its doors somewhere in France, local politicians and future educational staff sit together to choose a proper name for it. As a consequence of this procedure, the results are compromises par excellence. A small minority of schools are named after a plant or a celestial body, and some schools in Paris have the name of the street they are in. However, the biggest part of the 57,000 elementary schools, 70,000 colleges and 4,000 lycées in France get their name from a historical figure. According to Luc Bronner, a good look at what is written on the front of schools will tell us which historical figures the French consider most undisputed. He made an inventory of the names of all French schools. After he noticed that women and foreigners form a very small minority among the school names, Bronner expounded on a sociological interpretation of the facts. Why does the World War II resistance hero Jean Moulin have more schools named after him than Napoleon’s ‘great Marshals’, although the latter ‘have’ more streets and boulevards?
Project: Where to read?
Medium: Livres Hebdo
Journalist: Laurence Santantonios
Date: 8 June 2001 and 4 June 2004
Description This survey of Livres Hebdo was carried out in 111 French towns with a population over 50,000. It focussed on issues such as the library budget, the library surface and the number of subscribers to the library. The survey goes beyond proclaiming one particular town is the best place for readers. For that matter, Chambery was the winner in both rounds up until now. Livres Hebdo proved that a thorough governmental policy and serious investments in public libraries can influence the public’s reading behaviour.
Project: Racist? Me?
Medium: Les Echo’s
Journalist: Pascale-Marie Deschampes
Date: 1 June 2004
Description: In May 2004, the freshly appointed minister of Economy and Finance, Sarkozy, (who used to be the Minister of Interior Affairs) proposed that France should apply the policy of positive discrimination in employing job applicants. This is a very American idea, which is at odds with the republican tradition of égalite. The economic newspaper Les Echo’s hired a polling institute to question employers and employees about their feelings. One of the results of their survey was that one out of three job seekers with of North African descent thought he/she had been a victim of racist prejudices on the basis of their name or skin colour during application procedures. Nine percent of the employees stated they would ‘probably or certainly’ not accept orders from a coloured person. These figures shocked the French public and reinforced Sarkozy’s idea.
Project: Who killed Robert Boulin?
Medium: Lundi Investigation and Canal+
Journalist: Bernard Nicolas, Michel Despratx
Date: 15 January 2002
Description: On 30 October 1979, the body of Robert Boulin, a Minister under President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, was found dead in a lake near Rambouillet. The official reading has always been that Boulin took his own life because he couldn’t bear the allegations against him of corruption in a real estate transaction. But the rumours persisted that Boulin knew too much about too many people and had threatened to speak out; 22 years after his death, Bernard Nicolas and Michel Despratx delivered many new elements, including a declaration on camera of a former forensic doctor that the autopsy on Boulin’s body had been ‘insufficient’. The court was forced to re-open the case, just before the facts had become extinguished by limitation.
Project: The best clinics in France
Medium: Le Point
Journalist: Philippe Houdart, François Malye, Jérôme Vincent
Date: Annually since 1999, the latest episode was on 2 December 2004
Description: A combination of two research instruments eventually led to several advantages and disadvantages for every of the 818 medical clinics that were surveyed. The first was a list of questions that every clinic had to fill in and return, and the second was an analysis of the PMSI (Programme médicalisé des systèmes d’information), a database of the Ministry of Health that was consisted of 6,5 million anonymous medical histories on a yearly base. Each clinic was judged on sixteen different points. As a result the patients could use the survey as a guide for their future choice of medical care. Le Point also delivered a very precise explanation of the criteria that were used to judge the clinics.
Project: The fundamentalists are here already
Medium: Les islamistes sont déjà là (book)
Journalist: Christophe Deloire, Christophe Dubois
Description: Schoolchildren refused to have a Christmas tree in the classroom, in the name of Allah. Muslim officials who were working at the Ministry of the Interior demanded the time and space to pray. The French secret services spent a large part of their time and energy on these seemingly small clashes. This ‘secret war’, as Dubois and Deloire dubbed it, was aimed at fundamentalist groups trying to take control of French society. The book cites from a large variety of classified documents.
Project: Torture by the Frankfurt police
Medium: Tagesspiegel, Bild
Journalist: Jürgen Schreiber (Tagesspiegel), Horst Cronauer (Bild)
Date: 7 December 2002 to 17 February 2003
Description: Both journalists have independently revealed methods used by the Frankfurt police during the interrogations of a suspect of the kidnapping of an eleven-year-old boy. At the time of the interrogation, it was not clear if the boy was still alive. The municipal vice-president of police gave orders to threaten the suspect, under supervision of a doctor, and to subsequently cause pain, without leaving traces in the form of wounds. After the first threats, the suspect said he had murdered the boy. Both journalists were awarded the Wächterpreis for investigative reporting (the first prize).
Project: Carl Diem, sports hero or war criminal?
Medium: Main Post
Journalist: Andreas Jungbauer
Date: 2002 to 2003
Description: Sports official Carl Diem organised the Olympic Games of 1936 and received many awards for stimulating sports in Germany. The journalist Jungbauer heard about a speech of Diem in 1945, in which he incited young Germans to the final battle of the National Socialists. The journalist started his investigation because there was a Carl Diem Sports hall in the city of this local newspaper. He found the manuscript of the speech, and published on Diem’s ideas. A public debate followed, in which Jungbauer was intimidated. Finally, it was decided to give the sports hall a different name.
Project: Bribery for waste incineration.
Medium: Kölner Stadtanzeiger
Journalist: Axel Spilcker, Peter Berger, Andreas Damm
Date: March 2002
Description: The investigation started with some tips from the prosecutor’s office in Cologne. Businessman Hellmut Trienekens, who built a waste empire over a period of thirty years, made a declaration at the Justice Department about bribery. The newspaper the Kölner Stadtanzeiger decided to do a large-scale investigation. The team discovered that illegal gifts had been made to the socialist SPD. In addition, millions of euros were hidden in a garage. More than eleven million euro in bribes could be traced before, during and after the construction of the waste incineration. The complete top of the SPD in Cologne was forced to resign. As a result, the national SPD sank into a crisis. The project was awarded the Wächterpreis for investigative reporting (the first prize) in 2003.
Project: The forgotten Chechen war
Medium: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau
Journalist: Tomas Avenarius (SZ), Florian Hassel (FR)
Description: The Moscow correspondents of two competing newspapers decided to do a joint investigation into human rights violations in Chechnya. The difficulties in this area necessitated cooperation. The two journalists interviewed Chechen eyewitnesses, relatives of victims, and human rights activists. Top civil servants assisted the journalist, thereby risking their own lives. The journalists were able to reconstruct some events and discovered the humanitarian aid from Moscow was corrupted. As a result of this disclosure, the Chechen Health Minister had to resign. The project was awarded the Wächterpreis for investigative reporting (the second prize) in 2003.
Project: Construction Fraud in Cottbus
Medium: Lausitzer Rundschau
Journalist: Simone Wendler
Date: End 2000 till mid 2001
Description: After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the ownership of a large part of the houses in the Former GDR was transferred from the State to semi-governmental organisations. The renovation of the concrete buildings cost a fortune. Through a tip, the reporter discovered that fraudulent practices were going on within one building organisation. The companies that carry out extensive renovations are partly owned by board members of the building organisation. The reporter unravelled a web of ex-Stasis and interwoven companies. This exposure had political implications. The publications led to the dismissal of the board. The project was awarded the Wächterpreis for investigative reporting (the second prize) in 2002.
Project: Censored schoolbooks
Medium: Nordbayerischen Kurier
Journalist: Udo Meixner
Description: The reporter discovered how texts in schoolbooks at a secondary school in Auerbach were manipulated to strengthen the influence of conservative Christians. He unravelled a sectarian network. The project was awarded the Wächterpreis for investigative reporting (the third prize) in 2003
Project: The Lipobay drama
Medium: ARD (documentary)
Journalist: Christoph Lütgert, Siri Nyrop
Description: In August 2001, Bayer took the cholesterol medicine Lipobay (in the US: Bacol) from the market, because it had been linked to hundreds of deaths. The journalists decided to make a documentary about the juridical hype that ensued in the US. Hundreds of lawyers tried to sue for compensations for victims. But the journalists discovered contradictions in the declarations of Bayer. Gradually, they discovered that Bayer knew about the dangers at a very early stage, but they nevertheless decided to have a commercial introduction. The project was awarded the Leuchtturm prize for outstanding work by Netzwerk Recherche.
Project: A company disposal
Medium: Frontal21 (ZDF)
Journalist: Christian Esser (ZDF), Henryk Hielscher (freelance)
Description: The project started with a confused telephone call from a construction worker, who was trying to get his money from a construction firm that had changed owner a number of times and finally turns out to reside in an East German town in the state of Sachsen. The journalists unravelled a network of bankruptcy fraud. Owners can dispose of their debt-burdened companies by formally selling them to poor inhabitants of the GDR that receive a small payment for their willingness to act as a buyer, but who can never pay the debts of the company. The creditors remain empty-handed.
Project: Fantasies in Asia
Medium: Börse Online
Journalist: Renate Daum
Description: The reporter was curious about the strange data in the IPO prospectus (a document a company has to present if it wants its equities to be traded at the stock exchange) of ComRoad, a specialist in traffic telematics. Salaries at ComRoad were very low, in comparison to the annual turnover. Also, the continuous negative cash flow of the company aroused her interest. She decided to visit ComRoad’s trade partners, during a holiday in the Far East. She discovered a large part of the turnover was faked.
Project: German nuclear Technology for Saddam Hussein
Medium: Report aus Mainz (ARD)
Journalist: Thomas Reutter
Date: October 2002
Description: In 2002, Germany was criticised by the US for exporting nuclear technology to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. No further details were given. The reporter decided to investigate which ‘dual use’ goods — goods with a civil and military use — were exported to Iraq. Routinely, he checked the Siemens website, and saw Siemens’ address in Baghdad. When he questioned them, Siemens reacted anxiously, and a day later, the address was removed form the website. However, through Google, the name of Siemens was found in official American documents on the export of ignition parts for nuclear weapons. Reutter managed to trace this delivery.
Project: Fraud at Eurostat
Journalist: Marcello Faraggi (freelance)
Description: Freelance journalist Marcello Faraggi had no funds for his investigation into a suspected fraud at Eurostat. On his own account, he followed every imaginable clue. As a cam-jo (cameraman/journalist) he did the interviews on his own, with minimal advance planning, and without a disturbing and costly crew. The relative intimacy of the interviews led to some important declarations. Faraggi unravelled the web of related companies that worked for Eurostat, with the consent of the European Commission.
Project: Hunger and power in Ethiopia
Medium: Die Zeit
Journalist: Lutz Mükke
Date: 16 April 2003
Description: Journalist and Africa specialist Mükke was interested in the coordinated campaigns of human aid organisations to collect money for the umpteenth new hunger catastrophe in Ethiopia, which could cause millions of victims. He visited the ‘most threatened areas’, and discovered nice harvests. He analysed how aid goods disturbed local markets, and how they were used by those in power to reinforce their power. Senior EU civil servants in Ethiopia talked with him about this power mechanism. This research was supported by a stipend from Netzwerk Recherche.
Project: Women in the army
Medium: Debüt im Dritten (SWR)
Journalist: Aelrun Goethe
Description: Filmmaker Aelrun Goethe followed four young women in the German army during their training. She showed how light-heartedly the trainers talked about shooting orders, and how bad was the training of soldiers.
Project: The crown mafia
Medium: Frontal21 (ZDF) and Financial Times Deutschland
Journalist: Sonia Shinde (FTD), Herbert Klar (ZDF)
Date: 19 and 20 November 2002
Description: Dentists can order two different types of crowns: from Europe and from the Far East. The difference is the price. A German dental laboratory had all the logistics for the import of Asian crowns at European prices. The price difference was shared between the importer and the dentist. Financial Times Deutschland and Frontal21 were tipped off independently. They unravelled a network, in which 900 dentists participated.
Project: Olympic golden medal won with a doped horse
Journalist: Charlie Bird
Date: October 2004 and November 2004
Description: Bird broke the news that Waterford Crystal, the horse which won Ireland its only gold medal in the 2004 Olympics, had tested positive on the use of two forbidden substances, fluphenazine and zuclopenthixol. The rider, Cian O’Connor, denied any responsibility. One of the urine samples, the so-called B sample, was stolen in October in Cambridgeshire, England. The file of Landliebe, another horse O’Connor rode, was stolen from the offices of the Equestrian Federation of Ireland in November 2004.
Project: Overcharging by AIB
Journalist: Charlie Bird
Description: The Allied Irish Banks (AIB) had been overcharging foreign exchange customers for at least 14 million euro since 1995. It turned out that the software system used for his purpose, called Castlemain, had had ‘a problem’ for nearly ten years. Eventually, the amount that was unlawfully overcharged turned out to have been even higher. About 1.1 million instances of overcharging were brought to light, involving 173,000 accounts. AIB was forced to pay its customers 26.1 million euro in refunds.
Project: Tax evasion by NIB
Journalist: George Lee, Charlie Bird
Date: 1998 to 2004
Description: The National Irish Bank (NIB), Ireland’s fourth-largest bank, had been encouraging some of its customers to engage in tax evasion through offshore schemes. NIB had also duped another group of customers by overcharging them on fees and interest. The so-called DIRT inquiry was established, named after the tax — Deposit Interest Retention Tax — which the NIB helped some of its customers to evade. The final report of the DIRT inquiry was published in July 2004. The scandal had a political backlash. The TD (Teachta Dála, or member of the Dáil Éireann, the Irish Lower House) Beverley Flynn was expelled from her party Fianna Fáil in May 2004 because it turned out she had been complicit in the scandal. Before she became a TD, Flynn had been an employee of the NIB.
Project: Doncaster Rovers football ground purchase
Medium: The Irish Times
Journalist: Colm Keena
Description: The Irish businessman Denis O’Brien purchased the Doncaster Rovers football ground in 1998. Keena proved that former Minister of Transport, Energy & Communications Michael Lowry was linked to the purchase, by producing a letter from British solicitor Christopher Vaughan that was sent to Lowry’s home address. Vaughan claimed the letter was a mistake. O’Brien and Lowry denied any involvement of the latter as well. This didn’t stop the governmental Moriarty Tribunal, which investigates payments to politicians, from taking up the matter.
Project: The story behind the assassination of Veronica Guerin
Medium: Book: Evil Empire: The Irish Mob and the Assassination of Journalist Veronica Guerin
Journalist: Paul Williams
Description: This book presents a detailed study into the inner workings of the Dublin underworld, and specifically the mob leader John Gilligan. The book offers accounts of his rise in criminal circles and of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, and the achievements of the police team that brought him down after Guerin’s assassination. Gilligan was eventually extradited from the United Kingdom and was sentenced to 28 years in prison. He was convicted for drugs-related crimes though, not for murder.
Project: The tax residency of Denis O’Brien
Medium: Sunday Business Post
Journalist: Ted Harding, Eamon Quinn
Description: Businessman Denis O’Brien was the subject of an investigation by the Irish revenue commissioners to determine his tax residency. O’Brien moved to Portugal after he had sold his interest in the Irish mobile operator Esat Telecom to British Telecom in 2000. As a result, he made a 292 million euro profit. By moving to Portugal, O’Brien saved 51 million euro in Irish capital gains tax. In the same year, O’Brien had to appear before the Moriarty Tribunal to explain how he had come to be awarded for the mobile phone license.
Project: The trouble with endowment mortgages
Journalist: George Lee
Description: So-called endowment mortgages are very popular in Ireland. Buyers don’t start paying off their loan straight away. Instead, they pay a monthly interest fee and they save an amount of money each month with life assurance companies until they have enough to pay the entire loan off at once. The idea behind the scheme was that the amount eventually saved would allow for a financial surplus for the homebuyer. Unfortunately, however, the RTÉ investigations revealed this was often not the case. The RTÉ report led to a statement of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority urging citizens to complain if they felt they had been misinformed when purchasing a mortgage.
Project: The Ansbacher Conspiracy
Medium: Book: The Ansbacher Conspiracy
Journalist: Colm Keena
Description: Keena relates the story of a group of well-connected businessmen and politicians who invented a scheme to avoid taxes. They did so through Ansbacher, an international investment bank with subsidiaries in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands. Irish influentials such as Ben Dunne and former Prime Minister Charles Haughey turned out to be holders of Ansbacher accounts. As a result, the Moriarty Tribunal was set up to investigate the affair.
Project: Planning Corruption in Ireland
Medium: Book: With a Little Help from My Friends: Planning Corruption in Ireland
Journalist: Paul Cullen
Description: Cullen reconstructed the ventures of men who are the subject of the Flood Tribunal, which investigated planned corruption. People such as Ray Burke, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, had received payments of real estate developers. Cullen received the Justice Award for his endeavour.
Project: Ilaria Alpi, a homicide at the crossroads of illegal traffic
Medium: Famiglia Cristiana, and a book
Journalist: Luciano Scalettari, Barbara Carazzolo, Alberto Chiara
Date: 2002 and after
Description: On the 20 March 1994, journalist Ilaria Alpi and her cameraman Miran Hrovatin were killed in an ambush in Mogadishu while reporting for RAI’s Telegiornale 3. They had traced trafficking channels of toxic waste, nuclear waste, and arms. Italy seemed to be involved in the illegal trade. Eight years later, only a few aspects of the official truth have emerged: a guilty member of the ambushers, who, however, didn’t shoot. The journalists’ investigation looks at a series of missing testimonies, contradictions and mysteries. A pool of three journalists of Famiglia Cristiana investigated the trafficking of arms, toxic waste, and radioactive waste for a long time. This trade seemed to be the real motive behind the Alpi case. Scalettari is specialised in African questions and development items, Carazzolo specialised in issues of international smuggling of toxic and radioactive waste, and Chiara has a specialisation and contacts in diverse international structures and military questions. They travelled the countries concerned: Somalia, Yemen, Kenya, Mozambique, France, Italy-Sicily, Spain, and the UK, and studied, among other things, the legal documents, they interviewed lots of witnesses, released criminals and secret service agents.
Project: The odour of money
Medium: L’Unità, La Repubblica, and books, including L’odore dei soldi
Journalist: Marco Travaglio
Date: Latest book: October 2004
Description: Travaglio is known for his in-depth knowledge of documents and histories relating to his subjects. He has a great capacity to recombine all the facts. He followed the most significant Italian political, legal and financial affairs over the last decade, such as the Mani Pulite trials (operation ‘Clean Hands’), the big corruption affairs and trials of the nineties. Travaglio made startling ‘disclosures’ by simply publishing Public Acts and blowing away the dust of years of censorship of documents that were available for everyone, but nobody knew. His method: no laziness. He devoted endless energy in working through the stacks of Italian documents and eventually interpreting the significance of the texts in a comprehensible way.
Project: The Sicilians
Journalist: Michele Gambino
Date: The nineties
Description: Gambino’s investigations are always based on extensive research of various documents, backed up by facts he unearthed during his thorough fieldwork. Gambino: ‘Even in the most closed society it is possible to find deep throats, but only if the journalist specialises in one or two specific themes, which will provide him with the necessary knowledge of sources, persons and networks, to build up interesting case studies.’ Fifteen years of journalistic investigations have led to a lot of charges and indictments. Persons such as Berlusconi and other politicians have taken him to court. It became his second job and indeed kept him from his work. He now works for RAI-3 TV and creates programmes.
Project: If this is the UN
Medium: Report (RAI-3 TV)
Journalist: Paolo Mondani and others
Date: 10 September 2004
Description: Mondani has worked as an investigative journalist for various newspapers and magazines, and is now involved in television productions. The programme Report is produced externally. Authors film using their own cameras; the editors do the cuts autonomously, after which a kind of half-product goes to the final editing, carried out by Report’s editors. For the item ‘If this is the UN’ the Report journalists went to the United Nations in New York, researched documents and interviewed people about the Oil for Food scandal. Subsequently, they went to Baghdad to question people about the role of the UN, they went to Israel to speak with many different people — from Israeli secret service agents to Palestinian civilians and militants to Israeli filmmakers. Lastly, they visited a third place: the Sahrawi region between Morocco and Algeria, and continued on into Monrovia, Liberia, and then Kosovo. They travelled to these places in order to get a grip on the organisation of the UN, with a focus on the financial expenditures and the politics that drive the UN. Report brings out a series of seventeen programmes per year. It is broadcast late in the evening, the programme reaches about two million people, more than any newspaper ever will.
Project: The hunt for Bin Laden
Medium: L’Espresso, and a book
Journalist: Leo Sisti
Description: In his latest book Caccia a Bin Laden — Lo sceicco del terrore (‘Hunt for Bin Laden — The Sheik of Terror’) Sisti follows money trails of the Al Qaeda network. He explored documents and researched Arabic charity organisations, which played a part in the organisation of 9-11. Sisti has a great reputation in investigating political and economic corruption, which started with the bankers Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi cases, or the scandal around the Banco Ambrosiano. He is a very precise and experienced journalist who usually takes legal documents as a starting point. He has developed a confrontational style of investigative journalism, by confronting sources such as bankers, investigators, magistrates. Sisti: ‘Everything starts with the concept of the source. It is always necessary to be very annoying, to follow people, telephone a lot, and irritate them! Then collect and recombine all that information.’ Legal documents can serve as proof, and can prevent later indictments. Sisti wrote books together with other investigative journalists such as Peter Gomez and Marco Travaglio.
Medium: Diario della Settimana
Journalist: Marina Morpurgo
Description: Enzo Baldoni was reporting from Iraq for Diario della Settimana. He was taken hostage and became the second Italian hostage to be killed in Iraq, at the end of August 2004. As with Iraq was the case, Diario della Settimana always tries to report from difficult accessible areas, as an integral part of their policy. The dynamics behind the killing of Baldoni and another hostage (Ghareeb) were and still are subject to investigation of Diario. In this weekly magazine the ‘investigation old style’ is based on hard proof: the essential documents and personal facts. The Diario della Settimana always tries to delve as deep as possible into a case; the reporter has to visit the places that are a must. The literary style typical of Diario is obligatory as well. Dario deals with many different subjects over a broad spectrum, focused on politics, economic scandals, foreign policy, Iraq. The investigations are above all led by current news affairs, which often have follow-ups. Special national cases Diario focused on are the money — and political — tracks behind (privatised) major infrastructural constructions such as roads and rail tracks, in the ‘Val di Susa’ region above Turin.
Project: Sicily, Cosa Nostra
Medium: L’Unità, and books
Journalist: Saverio Lodato
Description: In 1999, a book was published, based on a long interview with ex-Mafia chief Tommaso Buscetta. Lodato doesn’t like the use of anonymous sources and he was arrested in the eighties for not revealing the name of an anonymous source, together with Attilio Bolzoni, a journalist for La Repubblica. They were kept a week in isolation in a Sicilian high security jail. Lodato knows the island as well as all the ins and outs of the Mafia wars in the eighties. He kept a close eye on the trials against former President Andreotti. Lodato and Bolzoni are the only journalists still frequently writing on Sicilian organised crime for a national newspaper. He follows the trials, studies the documents and he hangs around in the back streets of the island. Has an extensive network of sources in all levels of society. Because of his network and protracted experience and perspective, he can make the links from Cosa Nostra to Mani Pulite (operation ‘Clean Hands’) or Tangentopoli (‘Bribeville’, the name used to indicate the corruption-based system that ruled Italy until operation ‘Clean Hands’ ended this in the early nineties).
Project: G-8 trials, police, secret services, political movements
Medium: Il Manifesto
Journalist: Alessandro Mantovani
Date: Since 2001
Description: This newspaper has always struggled for survival, since it became independent from direct political powers. However, consequently, no money or time is available for real investigations. Mantovani concentrated on the G-8 court cases in Genoa, and on the ‘New Red Brigades’ who killed two governmental advisors in the last five years. He has a great knowledge of the judicial and police authorities, but also of antagonist movements. He meets with judges and police officials just as easily as with the ‘no globals’. He knows everybody he writes about, and he verifies their information by confronting all the facts with various sources. He obtained firsthand information on the police who falsified important evidence in the Genoa G-8 cases.
Project: Developing new technological modality for transmitting video from undemocratic countries.
Medium: RAI News24
Journalist: Maurizio Torrealta
Description: Torrealta was the first one to take up the Ilaria Alpi case, the journalist for RAI-3 Tv who was killed in Somalia together with her cameraman Miran Hrovatin in 1994. Torrealta had worked with her at the Tg3 RAI television journal. He researched in Somalia and other places. He is now editor in chief at RAINews24 and coordinator of the EBU All News Group. In RAINews24 he is in charge of experimenting the use by journalists of digital video cameras and video transmission over the Internet in order to bypass censorship at the feed point in countries with such habits. At the end of January, the Parliamentary Committee that investigates the assassination of Alpi and Hrovatin in Somalia had his house and office searched, without any formal indictment. Various journalists and the FNSI see this as an intimidation by the same committee.
Project: The safest municipalities
Journalist: Arthur van Leeuwen, Gaby Vullings
Date: 14 June 2003
Description: The weekly magazine Elsevier has established a tradition of an annual comparison of municipalities, focussing on a certain aspect every year. This time ‘security’ was the underlying theme. The reporters collected statistics from all kinds of sources for example data on crime, traffic accidents, and feelings of fear that were reported in large-scale surveys. This required long and tedious negotiations with several authorities, as much of the data was not publicly available. The project took five months, and the results were a surprise to many. Specifically citizens confronted local politicians for the first time with their municipality’s ranking. For the first time they got an overall impression of level of security in their town compared to other places. For the magazine this is an example of ‘news you can use’, in the sense that it may facilitate choices for an individual or a family.
Project: A noisy airport
Medium: de Volkskrant
Journalist: Jan Meeus, John Schoorl
Date: 20 August 2003
Description: The Netherlands is a densely populated country and Schiphol, the national airport, is situated in the heart of the largest population concentration. As the airport continued to grow over the years, the complaints about level of noise became louder. The noise nuisance was a central issue in the debates on the permission for the airport to open a sixth runway. To settle the ongoing debates about measuring or calculating noise for once and for all, the Minister of Transport appointed an advisory committee chaired by the country’s most eminent acoustician, Professor Guus Berkhout. The reporters revealed how civil servants and airport officials systematically obstructed Berkhout. They did not really want an independent enquiry. The reporters clearly showed how authorities were masking an unwanted truth, and they convinced Berkhout to go on the record with his side of the story.
Project: Ahold — reconstructing the scandal
Medium: NRC Handelsblad
Journalist: Joost Oranje, Jeroen Wester
Date: February 2004
Description: The Dutch food retailer Ahold was one of the heroes of the booming nineties: it grew continually, and was always taking over new companies in ever more countries. Until things went pear-shaped: it turned out the company had been cooking the books. In particular, it had been consolidating profits of daughter companies without sufficient competence to do so. This came out in February 2003. One of the reporters then began to build a network of contacts in and around the company, both in the Netherlands and in many other countries, for example in Norway and Sweden. The aim was to make a reconstruction of the whole affair, to be published one year later. Because he had so much time, he could gain the confidence of many important players. As a result, the reporters eventually had copies of the secret side letters to contracts that constituted the core of the fraud. And the more documents they obtained, the more easily they could convince their sources to tell them even more, or to give them additional documents. They published the story in four parts covering two broadsheet pages each. The project won the first VVOJ Award for investigative journalism in the category textual productions.
Project: Attendance and voting in the European Parliament
Medium: NRC Handelsblad
Journalist: Dick van Eijk
Date: May 2004
Description: Members of the European Parliament have a varying rate of attendance and participation in roll call voting. Interesting questions in this respect are: who attends and who does not, and what difference does it make? The reporter converted over 600 files with voting and attendance data into a huge database. This allowed him to analyse five years of data, which showed that nationality is an important parameter to explain differences in attendance: for instance, Italians show up far less than the Dutch do. On the basis of the voting data, the reporter could prove that, contrary to what many believe, voting in the European Parliament tends to go along party lines more so than along lines of nationality. This was not the case in the early days of the European Parliament. The data also showed numerous irregularities, such as dead Members attending meetings.
Project: The Bilderberg Conference of 1954
Medium: Andere Tijden
Journalist: Karin van den Born, Rob Bruins, Gerda Jansen Hendriks, Hendrina Praamsma
Date: 6 January 2004
Description: The Bilderberg Conference was originally an initiative of Prince Bernhard, the late husband of the former queen Juliana. They turned into annual meetings of politicians, scientists, businessmen and other members of the world elite. From the beginning, there have been rumours about these conferences being a secret world government. Andere Tijden (‘Different Times’) is a television programme that does investigative stories on the past. They decided to make a reconstruction of the first conference in Hotel De Bilderberg in the village of Oosterbeek, to be broadcast fifty years after the original conference took place. After a long quest in many different archives they found documents about the conference, personal notes of some participants, and tapes of the conference sessions. The discussions showed the immense divide between Europe and the US at that time. The reporters convinced several of the surviving original participants, among others Prince Bernhard, to share their memories of the conference with them.
Project: Domestic tax havens
Medium: De Telegraaf
Journalist: Martijn Koolhoven
Date: June 2004
Description: All citizens are equal when it comes to taxes. But some are more equal than others, a reporter of the country’s largest newspaper discovered. Certain groups of anti-social and sometimes violent people paid only three percent of their income in taxes, which was formally confirmed by an official ruling. The investigation started off with tip-offs from people in the reporter’s professional network of sources. The tips concerned a trailer park in Maastricht, which at the time made the headlines because of police raids. He told his sources he wanted to talk about this trailer park, but he didn’t reveal in advance that he wanted information on the three- percent ruling. However, in all interviews he discussed the ruling with his sources. Incidentally, the Deputy Minister of Finance responsible for taxes was unaware of the existence of such a ruling. After the first publication, more tips came in, suggesting that this trailer park was not an exception to the rule, the ruling might have concerned many others. The publication led to Parliamentary questions and it led to the end of the ruling. Because the reporter and the newspaper had been threatened, the newspaper decided this was serious enough reason not to further pursue the subject.
Project: Schools’ fortunes
Medium: het Onderwijsblad
Journalist: Yvonne van de Meent
Date: 20 March 2004
Description: Schools for post-secondary vocational training have had a good time: around the turn of the century they were able to save substantial amounts of money and to add them to their assets. Their total savings added up to two billion euro, according to one school director. The reporter tried to get an overview of the financial situation of all 42 schools for post-secondary vocational training. She had done a similar investigation on polytechnics earlier. However, obtaining the required data was not easy. Obstruction by the Ministry of Education and several schools made it a time-consuming job. In the end, the reporter was able to enter all the financial data into an Excel file and could then analyse the financial position of each individual school. In addition, she interviewed about twenty-five people, to see if the conclusions of her research could be confirmed and explained. Some of the schools turned out to be very wealthy indeed, but in 2002 half of them reported a loss.
Project: Violence in detention centre Den Engh
Medium: Utrechts Nieuwsblad
Journalist: Iris van den Boom, Dylan de Gruijl, Ard Schouten
Date: April 2004
Description: The trigger for the investigation into a youth prison in the newspaper’s region was an anonymous letter. According to the letter-writer, several cases of violence — as severe as rape — were kept secret by the board of the institute. A young women who lived nearby the centre and who had been raped by an inmate, was offered a moped by the board if she did not go to the police. It took the reporters a lot of time and effort to gain the confidence of their sources and to convince them to talk. They spent seven months on the project, while covering the daily news as well. They spent much effort on a comprehensible presentation of the story, spread over three consecutive days.
Project: Special Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq
Journalist: Huub Jaspers
Date: 14 May 2004
Description: Dutch troops take part in secret military operations in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, usually, but not always, as Special Forces. The investigative radio programme Argos was triggered by the words of a high-ranking defence official that they should not ask questions about secret operations in an interview they were going to have with the Minister of Defence. Using the Internet — for example websites of local newspapers in the US, archives and military sources — the reporter tried to reconstruct how many casualties there were among American Special Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The information he found was discussed with confidential intelligence sources. According to the investigation, 2,200 American Special Forces members died from the start of the operations until April 2004, which is a high number by all standards. Compensation for these losses was probably the main reason for the US to urgently request allies such as the Netherlands to support the operations with their Special Forces.
Project: An expensive office
Medium: RTL Nieuws
Journalist: Diederick Kraaijeveld
Description: Over one million Dutch persons receive their unemployment or disability allowance from the UWV, a new quasi non-governmental organisation. The reporter set out to check rumours that the office of the new organisation had been furnished rather lavishly. Wearing a safety helmet and carrying a hidden camera, he entered the construction site and filmed the interior design of marble and hardwood. The board of the UWV had decided the original interior was not good enough, especially in the board’s own wing. The programme led to tough questions in Parliament and a lot of trouble for the Minister of Social Affairs. In the end, the CEO of UWV was transferred to another (well-paid) job. The project won the first VVOJ Award for investigative journalism in the category audio-visual productions.
Project: How honest is the police?
Journalist: Marco van Barneveld
Date: 23 July 2003
Description: Keeping lost and found objects is one of the tasks of the Dutch police. But what happens if one delivers a mobile phone at a police station, as a found object? This is exactly what the reporter of the popular weekly magazine Panorama did, and he did so at ten different police stations. After two weeks, he inquired at the same police stations whether his mobile phone had been found. The score was fifty percent; which was about the same result the magazine got five years earlier when it did a similar test with a wallet containing 200 guilders. Only when the reporter introduced himself as a reporter who was testing police service did the other five phones show up. But the average citizen would have to have managed without it.
Project: Construction fraud
Journalist: Jos van Dongen, Oscar van der Kroon
Date: November 2001
Description: The construction business is probably one of the sectors most prone to fraud and corruption anywhere. But it is not easy to reveal such corruption in a country where it is not common to publish the names of corrupt politicians and civil servants. The reporters of the monthly investigative television programme Zembla struck a deal with a manager of a construction company who wanted to serve as a whistleblower. His shadow bookkeeping was the starting point for their investigations into many other cases. Obviously, most of the people involved did not want to talk, or at least not on camera. But with a lot of stamina the reporters succeeded in building a story that was strong enough to generate a cascade of consequences, from a Parliamentary investigation to prosecution of the major construction companies and some of their board members.
Project: The robber-fishers
Journalist: Svein Bæren, Rune Ytreberg
Date: 20 September 2004
Description: The Russian ship-owner Sogra was convicted by a Norwegian court for fishing in excess of the permitted quota in Norwegian waters. During the court case it turned out that the Russians had rented a trawler from the Norwegian company Ocean Trawlers. The investigation by the reporters showed that the company had been involved in other cases of illegal fishing as well. They talked to many Russian sailors and Norwegian fish traders and gradually found out that a substantial part of the Russian over-fishing of the Barents Sea was actually taking place under the supervision of Norwegian companies. The ten companies involved rented over fifty trawlers to Russians, and financed the trade of Russian fish quota. Although the actual lists of foreign trawlers allowed to fish in Norwegian waters were secret, the reporters managed to reconstruct most of them with the help of data from various Norwegian, Russian, British, Dutch and Chinese sources. The programme concentrated on Ocean Trawlers because it was the largest Norwegian company involved in illegal fishing in the Barents Sea. One of the reporters worked over three years on the case — besides other projects. Over 200 people were interviewed in several countries and an enormous amount of electronic and printed documents were collected. The project won the SKUP-prize in 2005.
Project: Underage burglars
Journalist: Trond Olav Skrunes
Date: June 2004 to January 2005
Description: What started as a common burglary in a local school gradually evolved into a case on the police treatment of a bunch of fourteen and fifteen-year suspects. The reporter at the small local weekly (circulation 2,000) in the Southwest of Norway started his investigation after a phone call and follow-up letter of one of the suspects’ parents. Their child and his friends were caught the night of the burglary, were handcuffed and locked in a cell. The police did not contact the parents. This seemed to be a violation of several laws and regulations on how police should treat children. It was only after the weekly started publishing on the case, that a formal investigation into the conduct of the police was initiated. But this did not touch upon many of the essential aspects of the case, so the cat-and-mouse game of the publishing medium, the complaining parents, the investigating authorities and the uncomfortable policemen went on for months. The case became of national importance when the state attorney concluded the law was not clear in cases like this, and should be amended — a recommendation that was recognised by the Justice Department.
Project: Local networks of power
Journalist: Mari K. By Rise, Lajla Ellingsen
Date: August 2003 to January 2004
Description: Who’s in power in Trondheim, Norway’s third largest city, and its surroundings; how do they operate and what do their networks look like? Those were the simple questions with which two reporters of the local newspaper started. They made lists of potentially powerful persons — based on their positions with access to power — and of sources with a good overview of a particular field in society, such as local business, health care or bureaucracy. Many people were on both lists. The reporters collected all the formal information on the potentially powerful, such as data from the trade register, the Norwegian ‘Who is Who’, and all sorts of archives, including those of the newspaper. About 90 people were interviewed anonymously. All of them were asked to place themselves in the networks of power. The reporters tried to be as practical as possible in their questions: if you think this person is so powerful: why? How does he exercise his power? With whom? Can you give examples? And so on. The reporters tried to attend as many meetings of the powerful as possible. Sometimes they were thrown out. They spent much time checking the facts and the stories their sources told them. Finally, they drew up a list in ranking order and wrote a few case studies. Incidentally, the editor and publisher of the newspaper were high up on the list.
Project: The Lucia foundation
Medium: Verdens Gang
Journalist: Tor Strand, Rolf Widerøe
Date: 2003 to 2005
Description: In 2000, the reporters started collecting material on an Iranian psychiatrist in Oslo. They had two separate leads: a general tip that he was involved in criminal activities, and a few months later a former employee his organisation, the Lucia foundation, suggested he was involved in setting fire to the apartment building where the former employee lived. It took the reporters over two years to collect sufficient material to prove that the man was the leader of a criminal group in Oslo, involved in drugs, cars, gambling, restaurants, bogus companies, and so on. At the same time he was working as a psychiatrist in a hospital. Many of his business partners were also his patients. After a while, the reporters started to systematically list information on documents, people and events. Several hundred people were involved as sources or subjects. Over a hundred stories were published about the case. Half a year after the first publication, the police started its own investigation into the case. The man was arrested during a huge police raid, in which seventy policemen raided eighteen different addresses. He has been put on trial and the authorities have taken all patients out of the Lucia foundation’s homes. The project won the SKUP-prize in 2004.
Project: The Tønne case
Journalist: Tormod Haugstad, Torgeir Lorentzen, Erling Ramnefjell
Date: December 2002
Description: Former Cabinet Member Tore Tønne received about 200,000 euro from a leading Norwegian industrialist, Kjell Inge Røkke, for just six weeks of consultancy work, a lobbying job. This scoop was the kick-off of the so-called Tønne case. Not only was there a lot of money involved, the amount exceeded the fees permitted by law, because Tønne also received so-called after-salary as a former Minister. Successive publications made clear that Tønne and Røkke had had close ties for a long time, even during the time that Tønne was in the cabinet. For instance, he received a substantial loan from Røkke. The reporters obtained public documents as well as leaked documents to support their case. A series of stories ran day after day, revealing new facts every time. After a week a police investigation was initiated, because what Tønne had done might have been an economic crime. A week after this event, Tore Tønne committed suicide. This led to a tremendous debate in the Norwegian media. The facts revealed by Dagbladet, however, were never contested. The debate was mainly about the presentation of the facts. A problem for Dagbladet was that Tore Tønne did not want to talk to the newspaper after the first publication, although he gave interviews to some other media. A consequence of this was that the reporters had no opportunity to observe and judge how he reacted to their allegations.
Project: Cross-country skiers on dope
Medium: Rikets Tilstand
Journalist: Gerhard Helskog, Kjell Persen, Per Norvik
Date: November 2002
Description: The programme investigated what kind of medication was brought into Lillehammer at the Olympic Winter Games of 1994, and what was returned. A lot of the medicines disappeared, reason enough to ask tough questions. While they were looking for documents, the reporters ran into a list of medicaments of the cross-country skiing team, Norway’s national pride that had won so many gold medals. The team seemed to behave very secretively. The team doctor made an uncertain appearance on camera. The impression something was wrong arose. The email correspondence between the reporters and staff of the ski team in the period between the interview and the broadcast three weeks later confirmed the journalists’ suspicion. Every reaction could be interpreted as ‘they are hiding something’. So the programme was broadcast with allegations of doping use and it included images of the winning Norwegian athletes. Other media followed suit and referred to the programme Rikets Tilstand. Then all hell broke loose in Norway. It turned out the whole accusation was false. What had gone wrong? The list did not contain the medicine the team had bought, but only what it had been offered. The status of the list had not been checked thoroughly enough. This had an enormous backlash on TV2 as a whole. The channel had to pay 600,000 euro in compensations, and two skiers terminated their cooperation with a different TV2 show.
Project: Judged by one’s peers?
Journalist: Anders Hagen, Ebbe Aarvåg
Date: June and July 2002
Description: In Norway there are trials by jury. The idea behind jury trials is that people are judged by their peers. Was this presumption true? The newspaper created a database of members of juries in appeal cases. Because tax data are public in Norway, the reporter could add income and property data of the jury members to the database. The data of several thousand jurors were entered manually. Then they were sent a survey of over a hundred questions; for this part a polling company was hired. The response was sufficient to be representative of all jurors. The reporters could compare jurors with the population as a whole: they concluded that jurors turned out to be richer, older, better educated and they worked in the public sector more often than the average Norwegian citizen. Besides, many jurors were interviewed, as well as the persons responsible for recruiting jury members. The response from about 1,200 jurors and all the interviews created a reserve of publishable stories for up to two weeks in a row — 25 pages — and several follow-up stories later in the year.
Project: Cheating taxi drivers
Medium: NRK Fakta
Journalist: Kaja Frøysa, Kjell Vesje, Caroline Rugeldal
Date: October 2004
Description: Many taxi drivers in Oslo charged their passengers too much, and did not report this extra income to the tax authorities. There was about sixty million euro in non-declared taxable income involved. The problem for the reporters was to find a taxi driver that had done this to talk. Most of them were immigrants from Pakistan and they were even more difficult to convince than native Norwegians were. The reporters discussed using hidden microphones, but were not satisfied with that approach. They took taxis all the time, and talked with numerous drivers. Finally they found a cab driver willing to cooperate, one that was representative of all the taxi drivers involved. Having a main character was considered necessary to be able to relate such a complicated story in a comprehensible manner in a half-hour radio documentary. The man talked on tape, but was referred to by a pseudonym in the programme. Information from other sources supported his story. The reporters also gathered lots of documents and other background information that was not dealt with in the documentary, but it was essential information to ascertain that the story that went on air was correct.
Journalist: Anne Hafstad
Description: The project started with tips from parents who said that Dexamin, the medicine their hyperactive children had been prescribed, was not as effective as they had expected. The reporter, who holds a degree in medicine, delved into the medical literature. She found a relatively old article from 1976, which stated there were actually two different varieties of this substance. Could it be that the international literature on effects was based on one variety, while the Norwegian patients would be prescribed the other, less effective one that, coincidentally, also had more side effects? In the Norwegian pharmaceutical handbooks there were no references to the two different varieties. She found out there had been some correspondence about the failing effect of Dexamin in the mail archives of the Norwegian drug administration. But even the country’s leading experts on hyperactivity did not know why the medicine was less effective than it should be according to the international literature. However, the hypothesis of there being two different substances instead of one, seemed interesting. After several attempts to find informal sources within the drug administration, one of them confirmed, off the record, that the reporter’s hypothesis was correct. A leaked report of the national laboratory of forensic toxicology confirmed her findings as well. Medical authorities that were confronted with the case tried to play it down. But the day after the publication of the story the Health Minister promised that Norwegian patients would get the more effective variety of the drug from then on. Between 500 and 1,000 Norwegian patients use Dexamin. The project won the SKUP-prize in 2001.
Medium: Polityka (weekly)
Journalists: Miroslaw Peczak, Jerzy Baczynski, Wieslaw Wladyka, Adam Szostkiewicz, Mariusz Janicki, Ewa Wilk, Joanna Podgorska, Ewa Nowakowska, Barbara Pietkiewicz, Piotr Sarzynski
Date: June 2003
Description: In 16 articles, written by a group of journalists, the Polish taboos were examined in depth. After the decline of communism in 1989, Polish society was confronted with a huge amount of frustrations. Although since then everything could be said and written, there remained subjects or ways of expressing oneself, that were considered to be insubordinations to certain values. The authors chose the following issues: the pope, the authorities, capitalism, socialism, history, anti-Semitism, money, farmers, dullness, abortion, freemasonry, feminism, homosexuality, molestation, death and provocative art. The studies were sharp and often ironical, but always very much to the point. They focussed on the hot items in Polish contemporary society, which has to deal with the challenges of the European Union and at the same time has to get even with the complexity of the country’s tragic past.
Medium: Newsweek Polska (weekly)
Journalists: Grzegorz Indulski, Michal Karnowski, Amelia Lukasiak, Andrzej Potocki, Agnieszka Rybak
Date: January 2003
Description: ‘Rywingate’ became an expression in Poland. The main actors in the affair were Adam Michnik, the editor of Gazeta Wyborcza (‘Election newspaper’), one of the largest newspapers in post-communist Poland, Leszek Miller, former Prime Minister, and Lew Rywin, film producer, who produced Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Polanski’s The Pianist among others. Gazeta Wyborcza revealed the affair at the end of December 2002. On the front page the headlines read that in June 2001, Rywin made a proposal to Michnik. Michnik could amend an unfortunate media law in exchange for 17.5 million dollars. Michnik secretly taped the conversation, and published the contents, not immediately, but after five months. The Newsweek Polska article ‘Rywingate, a drama in several acts’ revealed a new scandal within the old one. The journalists discovered that most members of the KRRiTV (the National Board for Radio and Television) didn’t know that the law on radio and television provided the possibility to privatise one of the public television channels. The members of the commission that investigated Rywingate often referred to this article. The whole Rywin case was about the biggest media war Poland ever had, with all the usual ingredients of a scandal: secret money, political influence on the media, freedom of speech, etcetera. It was a never-ending story, which no one will ever completely understand and nobody in it will ever be properly sentenced.
Project: The brotherhood never forgives
Medium: Newsweek Polska (weekly)
Journalists: M. Karnowski, A.R. Potocki
Date: November 2003
Description: In Poland there are about a hundred and fifty sects. One of them is the Himawanti Brotherhood, with more than 3,000 members. It preaches a mixture of ideas, taken from different eastern religions, with elements of Hindu, Sufi, mystics, yoga and so on. Himawanti claims everything that hinders the human individual to develop himself has to disappear. Its guru is the 42 year-old astronomer and Aikido fighter Ryszard Matuszewski, alias ‘Mohan’. The article revealed that the Himawanti sect threatened to commit terrorist attacks. The members said they would blow up the famous monastery of Jasna Gora (The Clear Mountain), one the most magnificent places in Poland, where millions of pilgrims come to gather and pray every year. They also declared they would kill the pope. In the article, the author revealed that teachers of secondary schools were also members of this sect. The Minister of Education consequently ordered the curators to investigate which members worked in schools. The guru of the sect was sentenced and imprisoned for three and a half years. In January 2004, the Polish television programme Superwizjer aired a reportage by Monika Bartkowicz on this matter.
Project: Barrier, post-communist censorship.
Journalist: Adam Bogoryja-Zakrzewski
Description: The film Szlaban (Barrier) described an extreme case of censorship. The censored film was called Witajcie w zyciu (‘You are welcome in life’) and was directed by Henryk Dederko. The subject of the film was the daily management of the firm Amway. Dederko showed the quasi-religious mentality of the Amway activities and influence on the psyche of all the people that were involved in the firm. The film was honoured with the Grand Prix at the VII festival of media in Lodz, the most important film town of Poland. Shortly after the premiere the provincial court in Warsaw prohibited the distribution of the film on Amway’s demand. Amway continued to sue Dederko.
Project: Friends from the shooting club
Journalists: Anna Marszalek, Bertold Kittel
Date: 22 November 2000 and 12 February 2001
Description: The two articles ‘Judges for hire’ and ‘Friends from the shooting club’ courageously revealed the deals that existed in the town of Torun, where judges were the neighbours of ordinary criminals. Those criminals were known for their murders, bomb scares, shoot-outs, mafia practices and blackmail. They also tried to intimidate journalists who wrote about these affairs. Some judges frequented the same shooting club, called Magnum, as the gangsters. It appeared that judges from different Polish towns also attended this club. The gangsters were often very rich businessman, in among other things, the meat industry. As a result of the publications by Kittel and Marszalek, some judges were fired.
Project: The cooked priest
Medium: Newsweek Polska and Superwizjer (TVN)
Journalists: M. Keskrawiec, J. Bazan
Date: 18 May 2003
Description: The investigation concerned a church employee and a priest from Bielsko-Biala, in the southern part of Poland. The reporters revealed these two persons were responsible for the restitution of the assets of the church, which were stolen during the communist period. The employee and the priest, however, took personal benefit. This case shocked the country, where the church is supported by a large part of the population.
Project: Murder with international consent
Medium: TV Polsat
Journalist: Krystyna Kurczab-Redlich
Description: This extremely powerful and sometimes drastic documentary does not pretend to be impartial. It is a passionate accusation of the Russian authorities of the mass violation of human rights in Chechnya under the guise of an anti-terrorist campaign. While increasing state terror in Chechnya, Moscow conducted a constitutional referendum, which included a vote for Parliamentary representatives and the Presidency. The terrified populace generally had no idea what the referendum was about. The Kremlin triumphantly announced that the outcome of the vote confirmed that Chechnya was a part of Russia. The death sentence is meted out in Chechnya every day for the smallest opposition to the authorities. The systematic use of torture in filtration camps continues. In her film, Krystyna Kurczab-Redlich, who has worked as a correspondent for Polsat television in Moscow for many years, accused not only the Russian authorities but she also condemned the silence of the international community. This film had a tremendous moral and informative value at a time when Chechnya was cut off from the world; it was practically unreachable for journalists.
Project: A million dollar medicine
Journalists: Andrzej Stankiewicz, Malgorzata Solecka
Description: Aleksander Nauman was the head of the National Health Foundation and Minister of Health in the post-communist SLD party (Union of leftist democrats). He was involved in a huge financial scandal with tentacles that reached Switzerland. The investigative journalists exposed a corrupted network in the department of drug registration in the Ministry of Health. They revealed suspicious developments involving the closest associates of the former Minister of Health Mariusz Lapinski. As a consequence, the prosecutors made an accusation of corruption against the Chief Cabinet Secretary. Nauman is now the symbol of corruption in Poland. The journalists continued their digging in the same field and published ‘Przyjaciele ze Szwajcarii’ (‘Friends from Switzerland’) and ‘Dobry adres pod Alpami’ (‘A good address in the Alps’). The journalists were awarded the Grand Press Award for Investigative Journalism in 2003 and the Grand Award for the Freedom of Speech.
Project: Skin trade
Medium: Gazeta Wyborcza and Lodz Public Radio
Journalists: Tomasz Patora, Marcin Stelmasiak, Przemyslaw Witkowski
Description: This project probably represents one of the most spectacular and morbid cases in the history of European investigative journalism. It dealt with corruption in the local ambulance service. The investigation exposed the sale of dead patient corpses to Polish undertakers. It started with a war between the funeral homes, which was comparable to gang warfare. Because people were involved there were leaks. The journalists noticed the leaks and started talks with everybody who might be involved. Ambulance corruption was the case in many cities in Poland, but this case was investigated in Lodz. Gazeta Wyborcza ran the story for several weeks and seventy people, who were involved in the network that sold dead bodies, were prosecuted. The ambulance team, the paramedics and the doctors knew about a patient who was about to die; even while he was not even dead they would send a message to the funeral home with which they had an illegal agreement. Some of the doctors and paramedics even decided to shorten the life of a person. The funeral homes paid them, because their business is profitable. Currently, the case is pending in court, and the suspects will be sentenced. The journalistic investigation lasted nine months. The team defied risks, displayed courage and determined reporting to produce the kind of journalism — according to the jury report of the Kurt Schork Award 2002 of Columbia University in New York — ‘that changes minds’. The story was also nominated for the Grand Press award for investigative journalism in Poland. Director Rafal Lipka made a fictional film about it in 2003. The plot: two journalists, Marek and Piotr, are going for a horse ride. During this ride Piotr falls off his horse and is taken to hospital by ambulance. Then it transpires that Piotr died on his way to the hospital. Marek, who looked for answers to the many pressing questions connected to his friend’s death, came across traces of a scandal in the health service.
Project: Casa Pia, a paedophile/homosexual network in an orphanage
Journalist: Felícia Cabrita
Date: 25 November 2002
Description: After an anonymous phone call, Felícia Cabrita started investigating the rumours that personnel in the famous orphanage Casa Pia were forcing boys into sexual relations with men. After extensive research (she interviewed boys and former residents, family, staff and she read police reports) she discovered the board of the orphanage must have known about, or was maybe even involved in, the paedophile network. Her first publication in November 2002 on the role of staff member ‘Bibi’ had an enormous impact. When the case was reported on television, victims of the paedophile network gave her several porn videocassettes on which they were filmed. Journalists and Justice authorities accused more famous Portuguese people of being involved in what was dubbed ‘the Casa Pia case’. There was also much discussion about the way allegations — those of the journalists as well as the Justice Department — were made. Cabrita has continued her investigations until this day; nowadays she does this for the magazine Grande Reportagem. In September 2004, she disclosed the links of the Casa Pia orphanage with a French paedophile network.
Project: The rebellious daughter
Medium: Expresso and a book
Journalist: José Pedro Castanheira, Valdemar Cruz
Date: 2002; book December 2003
Description: During an interview in 1999, José Pedro Castanheira heard the unbelievable story of Annie Silva Pais, the daughter of the last director of the fascist secret police Pide, who suddenly moved to Cuba. In Cuba, she became the interpreter of Fidel Castro, while her father and his secret service were one of the main pillars of the dictatorship of Salazar. The ‘escape’ of Annie Silva Pais was never revealed in Portugal. Based on extensive research in various archives, visits to Cuba and the diary of Annie’s mother, Castanheira and his colleague Valdemar Cruz were able to make a monumental reconstruction of the life of Annie in Cuba. Also, they revealed the panic in the secret service she caused by deciding to support the Cuban revolution. She returned to Portugal after the revolution of 1974 and played a role in the revolution, but she also tried to free her father. As the chief of the secret service, he was accused of organising the murder of Humberto Delgado, a presidential candidate who opposed the regime. The series in Expresso and the book, with dramatic stories of Portuguese recent history hitherto unknown, won the premium Gazeta, the main journalistic prize.
Project: Secondary school results
Medium: O Público
Journalist: Antonio Granado
Date: 27 August 2001
Description: Using the Portuguese law on access to documents, Antonio Granado tried to persuade the Ministry of Education to hand over the exam results of secondary schools. The government refused to do so and he appealed to the independent commission that judges rejected requests for official documents. The commission decided in his favour and ruled that the refusal of the Ministry of Education was an offence to the fundamental rights of transparency. The publication of the exam results had already been prepared in collaboration with the Universidade Catolica in Lisbon. Although the database was made accessible to all the media in early July, O Público was the first to publish an extensive list and stories on the results of all Portuguese secondary schools by the end of August. The paper continued to publish this list every year, although the Minister of Education recently said that these lists are ‘bad for schools’ and he said he would try to end the publications. ‘This will be very difficult, according to Portuguese law’, commented Granado.
Project: The socialist party in business
Medium: O Público
Journalist: Antonio Cerejo
Date: January 2001
Description: During the local elections, the Socialist Party (PS) received vast amounts of funding from the firm Gitap. Many municipal councils with a socialist majority used the firm to develop town planning for building and construction. The directors of the firm are two well-known PS supporters. Cerejo revealed the ties that existed between Gitap, the marketing daughter firm Oficina de Eventos and the leaders of the PS in region of Covilhã. Together they set up a scheme that enabled the PS to avoid paying VAT (Value Added Tax) by using falsified invoices. Gitap also paid travel and hotel expenses of many local PS administrators in Brussels, as Cerejo discovered. A related story revealed that another firm in the same zone, Ceoga — also linked to Gitap — was ordered to construct the new library of Covilhã after the personal intervention of José Socrates, the current PS leader who was elected Prime Minister in February 2005. Socrates and Gitap threatened to sue Cerejo. Opposing political parties discussed the case in Parliament. For Cerejo the case ‘was a perfect illustration of the promiscuity that exists Portugal between politicians and enterprises that do each other favours’.
Project: The secret life of the wolf
Medium: RTP television
Journalist: Jacinto Godinho
Date: 11 November 2004
Description: One of the largest groups of wolves in Europe lives on Portuguese territory. Today the wolf is a protected animal. Besides, it is very much alive in all kinds of Portuguese legends. Nevertheless, their life in the wild was never filmed. For three years the journalists of RTP tried to get near to a pack of wolves in two nature reserves and were able to film the wolves in their natural habitat.
Project: The illegal import of protected animals
Medium: RTP television
Journalist: António Marques
Date: August 2004
Description: After trafficking drugs and arms, the illegal import of protected animals is one of the most lucrative crimes. According to some estimations, the yearly profit from illegal animal transport is about two to four million euro. Portugal, with its long coastline, is a big port of entrance for the animal smugglers from Africa or Latin America. Nevertheless, it is rare that illegal animal transports are discovered or stopped. António Marques followed the route of illegal animal transports, talked with merchants, and focussed on the lack of interest of the Portuguese custom authorities.
Project: Franco and Salazar, the Iberian brothers
Medium: RTP television
Journalist: Fernando Bizarro, Joaquim Vieira
Date: 16 October 2004
Description: This is a documentary on the two fascist dictators that ruled the Iberian Peninsula for decades. This documentary was a co-production of the Spanish journalist Fernando Bizarro and his Portuguese colleague Joaquim Vieira. It was based on archive material and interviews with opponents and supporters of the dictators, among them the communist leader Santiago Carillo (Spain), former Minister of the Franco regime Manuel Fraga and the former Portuguese Minister of Overseas Territories, Adriano Moreira. The documentary gave an impressive picture of the dictatorship in both countries.
Project: Warning of terrorist attack ignored
Medium: Moskovskie Novosti (weekly)
Journalist: Igor Korolkov
Date: 27 February 2004
Description: A few days after a bomb explosion close to a Moscow metro station killed forty people, Moskovskie Novosti received a letter from a policeman from Southern Russia. He claimed that weeks before the bomb exploded, he had sent detailed information to Moscow about the preparations of a terrorist attack. But the chief of the Police Department for combating organised crime had ordered his subordinates to ignore the warning. Through his contacts in police circles, Korolkov found out that the ignored report mentioned the names of the presumed terrorists, their temporary addresses in Moscow and the place where they supposedly had hidden the explosives. Also, the possible place of the attack was named. Furthermore, Korolkov heard that immediately after the bomb had exploded, a policeman had blamed the chief commissioner in charge of the death of innocent citizens. The chief commissioner then ordered a written report about the preparation of the terrorist attack, thereby using the information of the ignored report and he demanded the date would be changed to the day the attack took actually place. Publication on this affair in Moscow News did not lead to official reactions or inquiries. The only reaction was a concerted campaign of misinformation in the media. Korolkov furthermore learnt that the police authorities tried to erase the original report from the registration files. Korolkov himself was invited for a conversation, but instead of receiving official denial or comment on the presented case, he was asked to name his sources.
Project: Secret instruction for state organs to act unlawfully
Medium: Moskovskie Novosti (weekly)
Journalist: Igor Korolkov
Date: September 2002
Description: Since the mid-nineties, veteran investigative reporter Korolkov has written about collusion cases between criminal gangs and state organs. In 1995, an extremely violent gang was arrested in the city of Vladivostok, in the Far East. They had committed at least sixteen murders. Korolkov noticed that former paratroopers with excellent military records held leading positions in the gang. One of them was a former officer of the GRU, the military intelligence service. The gang was very well equipped and trained. They recruited agents at all kinds of levels, such as militia and commercial firms. The gang members filed their intelligence data the same way the GRU does. The police found a complete archive. The official version of the facts as presented by the prosecution was that paratroopers and GRU officers had retired from the service and then became bad guys. Korolkov suspected that the gang was created by the GRU, but could not document it. Later, Korolkov observed similar developments evolving with respect to a gang in Nakhodka and in relation to (political) murders committed in Moscow by paratroopers. In 2002, Korolkov got hold of top-secret documents from the National Security Council, which approved of State organs creating structures, which could engage in unlawful activities to uphold the security of the state. According to Korolkov, these structures have become death squads; they sometimes work under strict instruction, but are often transformed into well-equipped gangs that are protected by high-level state officials. The publications in Moskovskie Novosti, in which Korolkov summarised these secret instructions, did not lead to further official inquiries. Indirectly, however, Korolkov got confirmation that the instructions were genuine.
Project: Suicide-cases in military unit
Medium: TV2 Tomsk
Description: A military unit is based in the closed city nuclear-industry Tomsk-7. Citizens of Tomsk-7 told reporters from TV2 that many cases of suicides were rumoured to occur among soldiers of this unit. With the assistance of the organisation ‘Mothers of Soldiers’, the names of boys who had committed suicide in Tomsk-7 were tracked down. The commanders of the unit denied that the suicides had taken place, and asked the local authorities to prevent further inquiries. TV2 made a series of items about the unit and concluded that senior soldiers systematically beat the young recruits, which caused the wave of suicides. TV2 also concluded that the commanders didn’t do anything to stop or prevent the beatings. After an official examination by the Moscow military authorities, the commander of the unit was promoted and subsequently transferred.
Project: High electricity bills
Medium: TV2 Tomsk
Description: Some citizens who lived in private houses in Tomsk had electricity meters installed. They noticed the bills they received were structurally too high. TV2 was informed and the television station itself installed electricity meters in flats in different neighbourhoods to check whether overcharging of bills happened by mistake or deliberately and systematically. When TV2 reported after two months that the electricity company as a rule overcharged its customers, a scandal was born. The governor of Tomsk — who wanted to be re-elected in the upcoming elections — had electricity meters installed in every house in town within a few months.
Project: Humanitarian aid in Beslan is not distributed
Medium: Versia (weekly)
Journalist: Dmitri Vasilev
Date: 6 February 2005
Description: The magazine Versia made an inventory of what kind of aid was promised to the victims of the terror attack in the Caucasian town Beslan and which aid was eventually distributed. Versia noted that different lists existed with varying numbers of people who were entitled to financial compensation. Only half of the 933 persons who were on the shortest list had actually received compensation. Local bureaucrats were slow in paying the money; they argued that in many cases it was not clear whether or not the person who applied was entitled to compensation. However, as a matter of fact, only eight uncertain cases could be found. Funds reserved for repairing flats and houses that were damaged during the attack were not used. The inhabitants, however, didn’t wait and started repairing their houses themselves, paying the costs out of their own pockets. Medicine and other humanitarian aid from abroad had to wait for clearance and they were not distributed, because of custom formalities. According to Versia, this is a typical pattern in the distribution of humanitarian aid: after endless delays, it becomes ‘too complicated’ to find the persons entitled to it and the aid will be sold on the black market in neighbouring regions by people who have laid their hands on the goods.
Project: Smuggling, weapon trade and money laundering
Medium: Novaya Gazeta
Journalist: Juri Shchekochikhin, after he died Roman Shleinov
Date: 2000 up till now
Description: After he discovered high-placed state officials in Russia smuggled furniture, Shchekochikhin uncovered that the same officials were also engaged in the laundry of large sums of money through the Bank of New York. Furthermore, the officials were also involved in the weapon trade. Customs officials, members of the secret service, officials of the Ministry of the Interior and prosecutors were involved in these deals. There were connections to Kremlin officials and Putin’s top advisors. More details became known when two clans of involved officials clashed and because of their conflict they couldn’t control the flow of information. One was from St. Petersburg and was connected to the secret service and the other had connections to ‘The Family’ (Yeltsin’s cronies). After a while, they reconciled, and the criminal enquiries that had started were dropped. Under pressure of the Russian parliament, however, the inquiry was reopened, and it became the personal responsibility of President Putin. According to Roman Shleinov, this just resulted in the participants acquiring even higher positions than before and no one was prosecuted.
Project: The militia goes berserk in a Bashkirian town
Medium: Novaya Gazeta
Journalist: Marat Khairullin
Date: January 2005
Description: In the Bashkirian town of Blagoveshchensk violent events took place. The militia and Special Forces rounded up almost three hundred men. These men were given administrative sentences, mostly heavy fines. According to the local and republican press, the action was provoked by a drunken mass that attacked a group of militiamen. Novaya Gazeta was informed of the incident because three women from Blagoveshchensk had travelled all the way to Moscow in order to relate to them another version of the events. According to them, for four days, the militia and Special Forces had beaten up men who showed up on the streets and in cafes. A correspondent of Novaya Gazeta reconstructed what had really happened in Blagoveshchensk. Three local businessmen, who ran gambling houses in town, turned out to have a long-standing conflict with the local authorities. Apparently, they refused to share their profits with the mayor and the judicial officials. Last year, the businessmen had a fight with some militiamen who wanted to check their documents on the street. The next day, the militiamen went to hospital to complain about their bruises. The doctors could not find anything serious. The authorities, however, summoned the Special Forces, who rounded up all the men who were in the gambling houses. They were arrested, beaten up and forced to sign a blank arrest record. Events escalated when the militia and the special police force continued their actions for four days. According to some reports, girls were rounded up and raped by militiamen. After the publicity in Novaya Gazeta, five militiamen stated that they were forced by their superiors to give false evidence about the cause of the events.
Project: Generals of the air force enrich themselves
Medium: Versia (weekly)
Journalist: Vadim Saranov
Date: 25 October 2004
Description: The vice-commander-in-chief of the Russian air force, general Dmitri Morozov, used factories and the budget of the air force to enrich himself, his family members and his cronies. Versia got hold of documents from which it emerged that since 1997, twenty repair workshops for airplanes were used to generate profits from commercial activities. These profits were transferred to a special ‘charity fund’ of the air force, which was processed and managed by a Moscow bank, founded by Morozov and members of his family. The money was used, among other things, to buy luxurious apartments in Moscow, not only for the general and his family, but also for the directors of the companies of the repair workshops, the main financial controller of the air force and others who participated in the fraudulent scheme. After the latest publication, general Morozov requested retirement. In the nineties, Morozov had been involved in another enrichment scandal, but had escaped with a simple warning.
Project: Attacks of 11 March
Medium: El Comercio
Journalist: Leticia Alvarez, Rosana Lanero
Date: 18 March 2004
Description: A week after the bomb attacks on the trains in Madrid on 11 March 2004, it became known that the explosives were from a deserted mine in Asturia. Alvarez and Lanero discovered that the regional police already knew about the organised gang who sold the explosives in 2001. Even so, nobody made a connection with the bombings. The journalists’ nine-month investigation revealed the lack of cooperation and exchange of information between the different police forces, as a result of which the terrorists had a field day. The series of articles that were published from March to November had a lot of influence on the parliamentary inquiry and the investigation of the attacks by the public prosecutor. On 10 May 2005, the work of Alvarez and Lanero was awarded the journalistic prize Ortega y Gasset.
Project: Taxi fraud with tourists in Barcelona
Medium: El Periodico
Journalist: Edwin Winkels
Date: 28 October 2004
Description: Originally from the Netherlands, but living and working in Spain, Winkels discovered that taxi drivers would charge him more than they did his Spanish colleagues. To check his impression, he made a lot of rides as a tourist and published his findings, which turned out to correspond with the initial impression. Tourists were charged three times the legally permitted amount. A month later he repeated his test. Despite promises by the taxi business, not a lot had changed. This follow-up led to an investigation by the council of Barcelona. The council came to the same conclusions as Winkel, and took measures in consultation with the organisations of taxi companies.
Project: The Moroccan spy on 11 March
Medium: El Mundo
Journalist: Antonio Rubio
Date: 31 May 2005
Description: The attacks of 11 March in Madrid were the work of a group of Spanish Muslim terrorists. The security services already knew about the activities of Al Quaeda in Spain before the attacks in New York. According to the authorities, the question of whether the attacks in Madrid could have been prevented can only be denied. On 31 May 2005, Antonio Rubio published a series of secret documents with records of police conversations with the Moroccan spy El Farssaoui that proved the security services were on close behind the perpetrators. Several times the spy warned of the dangers of the radical group. The revelation of these documents is part of a longer series of publications on the train attacks.
Project: The black hole of 11 March
Medium: El Mundo
Journalist: Fernando Mugica e.a.
Description: After the train bombings in Madrid on 11 March 2004, El Mundo started a series of investigative stories under the title ‘the black holes of M-11’, on the missing links and the background to attacks and the police investigation. Several journalists participated in the research. On 24 May, Fernando Mugica described how the mafia behind the supply of explosives, threatened people who worked with the police. Policemen themselves were threatened, and furthermore it transpired that there were connections between the police and the criminals.
Project: The mole within ETA
Medium: Book: Lobo, Un topo en las entrañas de ETA
Journalist: Manuel Cerdan, Antonio Rubio
Description: The Spanish police have often attempted to infiltrate the ETA. The most successful mole was Mikel Legarza (the Wolf). In 1975, due to his espionage work more than a hundred and fifty terrorists could be arrested. Cerdan and Rubio traced the former spy who has made himself ‘untraceable’ by using plastic surgery, because the ETA has sentenced him to death. In addition to a portrait of the ex-spy, on the basis of many talks the journalists had with him, the book is also an investigation into the working methods of the Spanish security services, which was documented by never previously published texts.
Project: Oil tanker Prestige
Medium: El País
Journalist: Luis Gomez, Pablo Ordaz
Date: 13 November 2002
Description: When on 13 November 2002 the oil tanker Prestige sank on the Gallician coast, the Spanish government introduced a set of controversial measures, which, according to most environmental experts, led to the biggest environmental disaster in Spain. Gomez and Ordaz started an investigation into how and why these decisions were made. They found out that the French government, among others, has exerted a lot of influence behind the scenes on the decision-making process that became catastrophic for the environment on the Northwestern Spanish and Portuguese coast. The coverage exposed a failing and deceitful policy, which later led to dismissals in the Spanish government.
Project: Executed Republicans
Medium: La Vanguardia
Journalist: Eduardo Martin de Pozuelo
Date: 20 October 2002
Description: Together with children and grand children of executed Republicans during the Spanish civil war of 1936 — 1939, Martin de Pozuelo started an investigation into the long suppressed past. Successive governments have always refused to rehabilitate those defeated victims in this war. Based on the exhumed corpses in a large number of mass graves, the reporter searched for the personal story of the people who gave their lives for an ideal sixty years ago. These stories helped to lead to a form of rehabilitation to which they were entitled for the victims and their next of kin
Project: The Mystery of the Boeing 11-S
Medium: La Vanguardia
Journalist: Eduardo Martin de Pozuelo, Xavier Mas de Xaxas
Date: 22 June 2003
Description: This investigation started with the reader R.R. who came to the newspaper with the message that there was something funny going on with the Boeing that flew into the Twin Towers. On the photos something seemed to be hanging under the plane. The research led to the airplane producer in Seattle, who initially cooperated, but at a later point in time, withdrew by order of the authorities. Further technical research of the photos demonstrated that it was not a case of effects of the lights, but there were real objects there. However, it is not clear what exactly the objects are. There are new questions that intensify the secrecy surrounding the attacks.
Project: Construction fraud from Madrid
Medium: e-defensor.com (website)
Journalist: Juan Luis Galiacho
Date: 31 May 2004
Description: Juan Luis Galiacho, publicist and professor at the university of Rey Juan Carlos, investigates the interrelatedness of the politicians of the Madrid-based Partido Popular and the world of construction. These are two parties who closely cooperate and who are well acquainted with speculation and bribes. This network is one of the many that have attracted the attention of Galiacho, such as the world of sport, and the power of some lawyers’ offices.
Project: Thirteen red roses
Medium: Book: 13 Rosas rojas
Journalist: Carlos Fonseca
Description: With his thirteen red roses, Fonseca brings a forgotten part of the first period after the Second World War back to life. On 5 August 1939, thirteen women (six underage) were executed because they were ‘red’. It signalled the start of the cruel regime of suppression under Franco. Carlos Fonseca, reporter at the magazine Tiempo, did two years of research at the archives and talked to relatives. For a long time the story of those defeated in the war was taboo in Spain. However, in the last few years, journalists and historians have been researching this part of Spanish history.
Project: Municipal strike
Medium: Uppdrag granskning (SVT)
Journalist: Janne Josefsson, Lars-Göran Svensson
Date: 25 November 2003
Description: After having been on strike for five weeks and having refused mediation several times, civil servants at the Swedish municipalities went back to work, once their union had suddenly signed an agreement with the employers. What caused the end of this, the largest strike ever in the public sector? Reporters travelled through out the country and interviewed dozens of people in order to make a reconstruction of the events. To verify the union’s claim that the agreement was a major step forward for the lowest paid workers, the reporters gathered information from every single municipality and county. It turned out that this concerned 1,350 union members were poorly paid and if temporary employees and interns were not counted, then there were only 122. The criteria negotiated for a 110 euro rise in the next year turned out to be so strict that not one single union member would profit from them. A three month-long investigation revealed how political rivalry and internal union politics led to an agreement on labour conditions that was worse than could have been negotiated without the strike.
Project: At their teachers’ mercy
Medium: Dokument inifrån (SVT)
Journalist: Evin Rubar
Date: 8 May 2003
Description: The reporter presented herself as a Muslim woman who wanted to enrol her child in a school. She confronted the school director by asking questions such as would he remain silent if the child was beaten up at home, and whether it was possible to skip particular topics in the curriculum if the parents objected to them. Both proposals were against the law. She filmed the conversations with a hidden camera. Several months later, she visited the schools again, this time as a journalist. On camera, the directors gave entirely different answers than they had done in the interviews with the mother who was looking for a school for her child. The documentary showed how the so-called free schools — in this case Muslim and Arab schools — always cooperated with parents and did not protect their pupils against violence. The education authorities did not bother to follow up on complaints if the school bluntly denied them.
Project: Winning wine merchants
Medium: Kalla Fakta (TV4)
Journalist: Sven Bergman, Joachim Dyfvermark, Fredrik Lundberg, Fredrik Laurin, Johan Stambro
Date: 8 December 2003
Description: The state-owned company Systembolaget has a monopoly on selling alcohol to consumers. For traders and wholesalers this means that if they want to sell to consumers, they must persuade Systembolaget to do business with them. Under these circumstances, bribing shop managers and procurement fraud turned out to be quite common practice, the reporters gradually found out. This practice had been going on for decades, and everyone involved kept silent about it. The reporters built up an extensive network of sources. They knew how the company worked from earlier programmes they had produced. They had permanent contacts with over fifty sources within the company. Much effort was put in to persuading them to talk — sometimes with the help of middlemen — because they were very afraid to lose face if they did. The reporters also got hold of documents that contained evidence of the bribery campaigns. Because almost all sources wanted to remain anonymous, special efforts were necessary to transform the information acquired into interesting television footage.
Project: ABF cheats the EU
Journalist: Magnus Svenungsson, Tomas Lindblom
Date: 23 April 2003
Description: The European Social Fund (ESF) sponsors numerous courses for the unemployed or projects that support employment, also in West-Sweden. The reporters were able to prove that some of these courses never took place, while others were mere leisure trips involving sailing and travel abroad. In several cases, the consultants paid for by the Fund were students that did not earn even half of the fees that were declared. The rest of the money went into the pockets of ABF, the company that had applied for the funding of the courses, or one of their daughter companies. By contacting fifty of the companies whose employees — according to ABF — took part in the courses, the reporters discovered five companies that had never taken part in any courses, even though they were reported as such to the ESF. Thanks to the Swedish law that grants access to public documents, the reporters were able to reveal detailed inconsistencies in the financial declarations. Care was taken in choosing which potential source to contact next, in order to prevent doors being closed.
Project: Interpreters and spies
Medium: SR Ekot
Journalist: Nuri Kino, Jenny Nordberg, Margita Boström
Date: 3 November 2003
Description: When he was in court one day, one of the reporters noticed that the interpretation from a language he happened to master was very bad. This observation led to a first programme, which showed that just about anybody could become a court interpreter. The reporter went undercover and applied for a job as an interpreter. While applying, he spoke very primitive Swedish, but he got the job anyway. This programme generated a lot of response. Listeners mentioned that interpreters did not only make faulty translations because of a lack of linguistic skills, but also deliberately. They had a political agenda and worked as spies for foreign regimes. This was elaborated upon in a second programme, in which a woman who had worked as a spy and an interpreter related her story. Steadily, the reporters got hold of documents, especially from the Iraqi secret service, which disclosed that Swedish citizens of Iraqi ancestry spied on other Swedish citizens with similar background. This led to a third programme that also drew much attention abroad.
Project: The commanders’ travels
Medium: Svenska Dagbladet
Journalist: Ulla Danné, Björn Hygstedt
Date: 14 July 2003
Description: The story started as a by-product of an investigation that one of the reporters did into the wives of high-ranking officers that landed a job with the army. They were paid while accompanying their husbands on business trips in Sweden and abroad — a whole salary not just the expenses. When the reporters dug deeper they also found examples of holiday trips paid for by the army. And the commanders turned out to be frequent users of a limousine service for private purposes. It took the reporters many months to get hold of the relevant documents. Although they are available to the public by Swedish law, the army did all it could to frustrate the work of the reporters. For example, they only received the paper documents of the limousine logs, so that it would be a lot more work to draw conclusions on this basis than if they had obtained Excel files.
Project: The Brunns Hotel
Medium: Helsingborgs Dagblad
Journalist: Lars Andreasson, Suzanne Holmberg, Christer Åkerlund
Date: 22 June 2003
Description: Two reporters got a tip-off, independently from each other and from entirely different people. The tips were about the same case: a private clinic in the newspaper’s region. A convicted white-collar criminal ran the clinic, according to one tip; patients complained about the treatment, according to the other. The reporters started to gather information about the people that directed the clinic: they came across a mysterious ‘research manager’ with no medical license, a local doctor who turned out to write blank prescriptions, the white-collar criminal and a nurse. A medical reporter joined the team. They found more patients, some of them were satisfied, some of them were angry. After 50 interviews the reporters were able to reveal how the clinic charged huge amounts for blood analyses, sold medicine to patients without telling them what it was and what it was for, sent a patient home with an acupuncture needle still in her back, and never gave files to patients who requested them.
Project: Young addicts
Journalist: Eva Burman, Mathias Ståhle, Lena Michanek
Date: November 2002
Description: A reporter who was researching the municipal social policy legislation found a peculiar loophole in the laws: young drug addicts under 18 could be taken into ‘family care’, and for addicts over 21 there was ‘adult care’, but there was nothing for those in between. She told this to a crime reporter over a cup of coffee. He looked into 700 drug cases he had coded: most problems occurred when addicts were between 18 and 21 years, exactly the period when there was no care. Two weeks later, when an 18-year-old addict died, their managers freed the reporters from other obligations so they could pursue this story. They interviewed hard drug addicts and their relatives, nurses, civil servants and police officers, and were able to study many of the addicts’ files because they had given the reporters permission to legally access their files. After two weeks of fulltime work, the reporters revealed the cruel consequences of the afore-mentioned, but hitherto unknown loophole in the municipal legislation.
Project: Politicians’ promises
Journalist: Bengt Bergsmark
Date: 8 December 2002
Description: In the run-up to the elections, the trade magazine for local civil servants decided to investigate what had come of the promises the political parties had made at the previous elections. During several months, the reporter gathered statistics, searched databases, did all sorts of calculations and interviewed experts and politicians. In the end, he revealed that the extra budget for the municipalities was not enough for the number of new jobs in education, health care and social work that had been promised; that there were actually fewer people working in health care and social work than before the previous elections; that the highest number of privatisations in care for the elderly and handicapped had taken place in municipalities with a leftwing administration; and that there was no difference between leftwing and rightwing municipalities in respect of the budget they spent on child care and care for the elderly. Statistics for all 289 Swedish municipalities were collected and published.
Project: The election huts
Medium: Uppdrag Granskning (SVT)
Journalist: Janne Josefson, Lars-Göran Svensson
Date: 10 September 2002
Description: During election campaigns, political parties in Sweden erect so-called election huts all over the country. Here, local and national politicians are available to answer citizens’ questions, and to hand out flyers. The reporters approached the politicians in the huts with a hidden camera and asked them — as citizens — questions about immigrants, refugees, crime and safety. They filmed many politically incorrect or even racist declarations, whereas other politicians did not argue when the reporters confronted them with their feigned anti-immigrant prejudices as citizens. Only a few actively debated with the citizens and stuck to their party’s programme with respect to the topics discussed. At a later point in time, the reporters went back to the same politicians, but this time as journalists from a national television programme and with a visible camera. The politicians told an entirely different story. The reporters visited fifty huts in thirty different municipalities and revealed the blunt contradictions between what politicians told citizens and what they told reporters.
Project: Stenbeck’s empire
Journalist: Stellan Björk, Karl von Schulzenheim
Date: 24 October 2001
Description: Jan Stenbeck was one of the most powerful men in Swedish business. But how important and how powerful was he really, asked a reporter that had already written several in-depth stories about him. He started gathering all sorts of material: books, articles, annual reports, company information from several countries, and so on. He interviewed dozens of people, among them people who had worked or still worked for Stenbeck or one of his companies, analysts, lawyers, competitors, employees of the stock exchange and tax officials.. He attended annual meetings and other public performances of his object of investigation. It took about five months to complete the overall picture of the role and influence of Stenbeck in the Swedish economy. An extra obstacle was that neither Stenbeck himself nor the companies he owned wanted to cooperate. It was therefore especially difficult to unravel the network of companies abroad.
Project: The rebirth of Swiss
Journalist: Urs Paul Engeler
Date: Week 4, 2005
Description: The Weltwoche got hold of the founding protocols of Swiss, an airline that was launched after the bankruptcy of Swiss Air. Despite warnings from experts, the new company inherited billions in losses from its predecessor Cross Air. The reporter showed how politicians’ national pride dominated over business logic.
Project: Behring’s Investment Paradise
Medium: Cash, Weltwoche
Journalist: Leo Müller, Christian Mensch
Date: 2004 and 2005
Description: Stock trader Dieter Behring invented an investment construction that he called ‘snowball’. That attracted a lot of private investors. All of them lost their money, in a web of companies that were set up by Behring in places such as the Bahamas. Müller, Mensch and many of their colleagues unravelled this web and exposed how Behring had deceived his customers.
Project: The fall of Ruth Metzler
Medium: Book: Macht und Zweitracht im Bundeshaus. Die Hintergründe zur Abwahl von Ruth Metzler
Journalist: Marc Comina
Date: April 2004
Description: The Swiss Minister Ruth Metzler was not re-elected by the Parliament — Ministers are elected by the Parliament in Switzerland — on 10 December 2003. It was the first time since 1872 that a Minister that was a candidate for re-election, lost his/her seat. Journalist Marc Comina started his investigation the next day, he spoke with everybody involved. He reconstructed the events that led to the fall of Metzler. However, he quoted none of his sources.
Project: Nuclear energy in Switzerland
Medium: Wochtenzeitung and a book
Journalist: Susan Boos
Description: Boos analyses all nuclear plants in Switzerland, and depicts the actual risks. She concludes the older plants cannot be upgraded any more.
Project: The P-files
Journalist: Urs Paul Engeler
Date: 1988 and 1989
Description: In one of the most exciting affairs in Swiss history, Engeler and many of his colleagues who investigated this case, discovered that the federal police Bupo had systematically spied on 900,000 persons and organisations, with no governmental control. The files of the secret P26 and P27 divisions contained data of five percent of the Swiss population, and almost 35 percent of the foreigners in Switzerland.
Project: Illegal Races
Medium: Rundschau (SF DRS)
Journalist: Hanspeter Bäni
Description: Bäni penetrated the scene of illegal races that are held in Swiss villages, a scene where people meet at places such as car washes. In the television documentary he made about the races, he evoked a call for measures against them.
Project: The Combino Tram
Medium: Basler Zeitung
Journalist: Christian Mensch
Date: 2004 and 2005
Description: Basle had a lot of problems with its new tram type, the Siemens Combino. Mensch visited a lot of cities that also had Combinos, and unravelled the problems. This is an example of local journalism with an international flavour.
Project: The Tasaday hoax
Medium: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, ABC 20/20 (USA)
Journalist: Oswald Iten
Description: In 1986, after the fall of Philippine president Marcos, Iten went to the Tasaday caves in the Philippines, where people were supposed to live in the Stone Age, without any modern influence. However, Iten found the caves deserted and he discovered that the Tasaday people were members of local tribes, which successfully pretended to live in the Stone Age. But as soon as the accredited scientists left, they put on their T-shirts and blue jeans again.
Project: Building fraud
Medium: Arena (Kanal D)
Journalist: Ugur Dundar and others
Date: October and November 2004
Description: The mayor of the districts Kücük Cekmece and Yesilyurd in Istanbul gave permission to build in the green heart of his municipality, an area where building was legally not allowed. However, tall apartment buildings arose on that spot. In exchange, the mayor and his high-ranking officials were given dozens of apartments. According to the programme, the mayor, his wife and children own 112 apartments in these buildings. ‘I have got the file in my office’, Dundar said. ‘I made two reporters available to investigate this. To our astonishment, not only the mayor and his civil servants have enriched themselves, but judges were given houses, too’, says Dundar. Currently, a judicial investigation into this case has been started. The reporters used cadastral data, research into a file that they received from an unknown source, partial undercover journalism and confrontation by hearing both sides.
Project: Fraudulent pharmaceutical companies
Journalist: Emine Algan
Date: July and August 2004
Description: The international pharmaceutical company Roche charged governmental institutions much more for the anti-cancer medicine NeoRecormon than it charged commercial health institutions. These commercial health institutions paid 88 million Turkish Lira for the same medicine, however, the Social Insurance Bank SSK had to pay 230 million Turkish Lira. What makes this investigation unique is the fact that the newspaper published more than thirty articles on this subject, of which twelve made the frontpage. The result was that the director in charge of Roche resigned. The Ministry of Health opened an inquiry. And at the moment, a judicial investigation has been started. ‘I suspect nothing will come of it’, says Algan. In December 2004, she won the prestigious Sedat Simavi press award with this series of articles. Following information from an anonymous informer, the reporter conducted a more full-scale investigation by holding open conversations with all authorities and people involved, carrying out file research, and making personal inquiries into the prices operating in the various health institutions. After the first publications, she received and discovered more information on this case.
Project: Criminal organisations’ ties with football clubs
Journalist: Tutkun Akbas
Date: 14 to 20 October 2004
Description: The infamous criminal gang of Sedat Peker has rather strong connections with some major football clubs. In the past, Peker’s gang has been responsible for several dead and wounded victims. The gang has a reputation as a gang of extortionists. The main link to football clubs of the Peker gang was Atilla Yildirim, vice-chairman of Trabzonspor, one of the four top clubs of the country. Gang members were not only active in the top of the football club Trabzonspor, but also in the football clubs Fenerbahce and Sivasspor. Olgun Aydin, advertising director of champion Fenerbahce, is a gang member. Five members of the gang play for Fenerbahce 2. The board of Sivasspor consists entirely of members of Peker’s gang. And that is not all. Through Mustafa Kefeli, at the time chairman of Besitas, Peker’s gang tried to take over the board of the football federation in 1997. A week after this publication, Peker’s gang was arrested by the Istanbul police, with great display of power. ‘Pure coincidence’, says journalist Tutkun Akbas. ‘I had been working on the investigation for some time.’ He researched the archives at the Chamber of Commerce, delved in to registers of the boards of football clubs, carried out investigations into the criminal past of several people, and he did some undercover journalism.
Project: Islamic women between two governments
Medium: Book: Direnis ve Itaat (‘Resistance and Obedience’)
Journalist: Rusan Cakir
Date: November 2000
Description: Rusan Cakir, who is an expert on Islam, published a book that dealt with the problems encountered by Muslim women when they decide to wear a headscarf. Despite the Turkish ban on wearing headscarves in schools, universities and public offices, these women fight to get the headscarf accepted. Cakir investigated the actions undertaken by these women and their connection with the then ruling Islamic Welfare Party of former Prime Minister Erbakan. He drew the conclusion that these women did not aim their actions at that party, possibly because the party itself was behind the actions. In his research, many of these women regretted having taken part in the actions, since this prevented them from finishing their university studies. On the other hand, their fight granted these women a place in the Islamic movement. In 2000, the investigation was published as a book. Prior to the publication of the book, he published a number of his findings in the newspaper Milliyet. The press reviewed the book, but apart from that, not much has happened. The author conducted a lot of interviews with women who took part in the actions at the time. The book mainly consists of an overview of these interviews and the conclusions drawn by the author.
Project: Series of publications on the MHP
Medium: D.B. Tercüman
Journalist: Emin Pazarci
Date: August 2004
Description: Starting in August 2004, the newspaper D.B. Tercüman published a series of eleven articles on the right extremist former ruling party MHP (Nationalist Action Party), also known as the Grey Wolves. The title of the series was Sirlari ire ülkücü hareket (‘The Grey Wolves and their Secrets’). These articles presented the past of the party in the 1970s and 1980s. It was demonstrated how the party used violence, was itself involved in murders and how they reacted to murder attacks on their members, how the party fuelled political activism at universities and how the party was organised. They also described how the party set up a militant branch and its actions. At the time, the party had an absolute leader, Alpaslan Türkes, who had absolute power. The articles mainly dealt with what happened under his rule; but present leaders, too, were active in those days and were involved in actions and attacks. The articles evoked a number of negative reactions from the Grey Wolves, but they did not start any legal action against the author. The author used a lot of documentation; he researched the party archives, newspaper archives, and used police documentation, as well as interviews. Pazarci had built up this file over many years.
Project: Shiites in Turkey
Medium: Atlas (a monthly)
Journalist: Mehmet Ali Özgündüz, Faik Bulut
Date: July 2004
Description: The two journalists investigated the differences in living conditions between Shiite Muslims in Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Özgündüz concentrated on the situation in Turkey and Bulut concentrated on Iran and Iraq. They drew the conclusion that the groups of Shiites do not differ that much from each other in essence, but they are more secularly inclined in Turkey. The reason for this is that they are a small minority in Turkey. In the magazine article, the two journalists describe the living conditions of the Shiites and their form of faith in the three countries. They managed to speak to people informally, in their homes and in houses of prayer. In Iran and Iraq, Shiites are well known. This is less the case in Turkey. They are often lumped together with the Alewites, a liberal movement within the Islam that also believes in the prophet Ali, just like the Shiites. The importance of this publication lay in the fact that it clarified this difference and made known the existence of Shiites in Turkey. Apart from many personal conversations, the reporters consulted documentation on the Islamic movements, and did other source research. Bulut is a well-known expert on Islam; he has many books to his name.
Project: Prosecutors in crime
Medium: Ukrainska Pravda (web site)
Journalist: Volodymyr Boiko
Date: 2001 to 2003
Description: In October 2000, policemen of the tax administration arrested the owner of a bakery in Donetsk, a certain Opolev. After a few days, he was released, but months later a criminal case against him was started for tax evasion. Boiko, acting as a civil defender of the businessman, got hold of a copy of the indictment. It was signed by a female prosecutor that Boiko knew to be abroad, in Italy. When he contacted her, it appeared that she was already in Palermo when the indictment was drafted. Her signature, which she sent by fax, looked clearly different from the one on the act of accusation. Boiko uncovered the story behind it, and could substantiate his articles with documents and witness statements. A former district prosecutor in Donetsk, G. Vasilev, who was at the time a Member of Parliament in Kiev, formed a group of racketeers in Donetsk with ‘his men’ in the prosecutor’s office and tax police. They threatened businessmen in their district with arrest if they wouldn’t pay them large sums of money. In the course of three years Opolev had paid 30,000 US dollar to these prosecutors-racketeers, but suddenly he decided that enough was enough. Thereupon he was arrested by tax police, severely beaten up and released only after having signed an IOU of 20,000 dollar. In hospital, where he had to be treated for his wounds, he decided not to pay this sum. Five days later he was arrested again, and a criminal case was started. The publications of Boiko about the falsified signatures on the indictment — the acting staff members of the prosecutor’s office did not dare to sign a false document — led to a scandal and a criminal inquiry. The court of appeal in Donetsk established that the signatures were indeed falsified, but did not dismiss the case against Opolev. He was not allowed to travel abroad, as long as there was no final decision on the indictment. No criminal case was started against the members of the prosecutor’s office and the tax police. They were promoted to other positions outside their district. Their boss, the Member of Parliament Vasilev, was appointed prosecutor-general of Ukraine in 2003. Boiko wrote a book about Vasilev and his criminal gang, who while he was prosecutor, was the owner of among other things a bank, a coal-mining industry, a television station, newspapers and sports clubs.
Project: The hidden criminal record of candidate Yanukovich
Medium: Ukraina Kriminalna (web site) and Svoboda (weekly)
Journalist: Volodymyr Boiko
Date: August 2002, May 2004
Description: After his publications about the prosecutors-racketeers, Boiko was arrested in June 2002. While in prison, his cellmates told him interesting stories about the criminal scene in Donetsk. A certain ‘Kvadrat’ told him that the governor of Donetsk, Yanukovich, had been convicted twice as a young person for robberies using excessive violence and he had been imprisoned for several years. Boiko was released from prison after ten days — president Kuchma had intervened personally, not wishing to raise more scandals — and he started to publish a series of prison diaries on the web site Ukraina Kriminalna in quite a humorous tone. The diaries included the claims of ‘Kvadrat’ about Yanukovich. Subsequently, anonymous persons came to see Boiko and offered him any amount he named, if he would promise to keep his mouth shut for one year about Yanukovich. In November 2002, when Yanukovich was appointed Prime Minister, Boiko’s prison diaries circulated in Parliament. Yanukovich was forced to admit to the MPs that he had been convicted, but refused to give any further details. In 2004, when Yanukovich became a presidential candidate, Boiko learned more about his criminal past and wrote a series of articles, reconstructing his biography. He discovered that Yanukovich, despite his criminal record, could study, travel abroad and work as a director of a big enterprise, all of which was not allowed according to Soviet law. The only possible explanation could be that Yanukovich had been recruited as an agent for the secret service during his imprisonment.
Project: Cover-up of homicide by a presidential campaigner
Medium: Obozrevatel (web site)
Journalist: Volodymyr Boiko
Date: 23 January 2005
Description: In August 2004, the head of Yushchenko’s presidential campaign in Odessa, A. Kozachenko, was involved in a shooting incident. A man died as a result of it. According to the version of Kozachenko, two men attacked him on the street, and because he feared an assassination, he defended himself by using his gun. When the police came, he stated that the pistol belonged to the attackers. No one was prosecuted. Boiko gathered witness statements and police records, which gave a completely different picture of events. Kozachenko had shot the man, while he sat his car, through a closed window, with his own illegal weapon, because he felt threatened by the men. They had not attacked him, but were drunk and asked him to light their cigarette. After one of the men had fallen down, the security guards who accompanied Kozachenko had beaten the man to death.
Project: How the presidential election results were rigged
Medium: Closed Zone (TV Channel 5)
Journalist: Volodymyr Aryev
Date: December 2004
Description: The transcripts of telephone conversations during the run-up to the Presidential elections revealed how the staff of the team Kuchma-Yanukovich had rigged the results. The source of the tapes were the party headquarters of opponent Yushchenko. Closed Zone aired the tapes and explained what the code language meant. ‘Cookies’ were falsified voting ballots that had been printed in Russia and put into the ballot boxes. The staff members were worried about their quality: it was visible that they were falsified. Therefore they used these ballots only in voting districts that were under the total control of their candidate. The second part of the transcripts contained nervous conversations about the access to the computer of the Central Electoral Commission. Staff members were not sure that the chairman of the CEC would give them, as had been agreed, secret access. In the end he did. The trick they used, was a ‘transit’ computer installed at a secret place, where the original results of the voting were sent first. The staff of Yanukovich could ‘amend’ the results to what was needed for a victory, and then forward them to the Central Electoral Commission. According to some reports, a sum of 21 million dollar had been transferred to the account of a firm belonging to the daughter of the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission.
Project: The unsolved death of the president of Uzhgorod University
Medium: Zerkalo Nedeli (Weekly Mirror)
Journalist: Volodymyr Martin
Date: 3 July 2004
Description: The President of Uzhgorod University, Slivka, was found by his wife, lying in a pool of blood and a knife in his hand. He died in hospital. Slivka did not leave a note. The next day the vice-governor of the Uzhgorod region assembled all heads of the university departments. He insisted that they would sign a statement in which it was said that Slivka had committed suicide, ‘otherwise the political opposition will exploit this for its own purpose’. At a press conference the following day, the governor officially announced suicide as the cause of death. However, Martin made inquiries into the background of the case. As it turned out, the regional authorities had already been campaigning against Slivka for months and they were trying to find criminal liability in his administering of the university. A few days before his death, Slivka had had talks with high-ranking officials. The content of these meetings remained unknown. Neighbours noted that Slivka’s guard dog was very sleepy. The article suggested that Slivka might have been killed, because he would not cooperate with the authorities during the upcoming elections. To stop the rumours, the authorities decided to start an official inquiry. According to Martin, this was only window-dressing. Once people calmed down, the inquiry would be halted without any result. This article won a third place in the 2004 contest for investigative journalism, organised by the Institute of Mass Information and the Kiev faculty of journalism.
Project: Living on a minimal income
Medium: Ekspres (newspaper in Lviv)
Journalist: Svitlana Martinets
Date: November, December 2003
Description: A journalist from the newspaper Ekspres decided to do an experiment. She would live for one month on a minimal salary, as is officially established by the state. This salary at the time was 205 hrivna, which is about forty euro. In a series of four weekly articles she described what happened with her, what she could afford to eat, to buy, to do, and how her outlook on life changed. After the first week she had lost three kilo’s weight, and felt physically poor. After the second week she noted ‘I do not live, I exist’. After the third week she wrote: ‘I want to cry out.’ Each article was accompanied by small interviews with people who had always had to live on this income, by practical suggestions, and by medical comments. The series won the first prize at the Institute of Mass Information contest for investigative journalism.
Project: Massage device is sold as medical instrument
Medium: Kafa (newspaper in Feodosia, Crimea)
Journalist: Aleksei Baturin
Date: 18 November 2003
Description: Street sellers sold a device named Vibrovital to elderly inhabitants of Feodosia. It vibrated, radiated a blue light and was said to help against a cold, pain in the back and neurological complaints. A reader wrote to the newspaper that the device was a sham. In a reaction to the letter the firm that sold Vibrovital placed an advertisement in the newspaper, in which it claimed that the instrument was medically tested with good results and officially registered. Baturin checked the claims of the firm, and came to the conclusion that no medical testing or registration had taken place in Ukraine, that the doctors who were said to have approved the instrument knew nothing about it, that the users of the device mentioned in the ad could not be found in Feodosia and that the instrument itself was nothing but a massage device. The firm director explained that Vibrovital was a medical instrument, but he imported it as if it were a massage device, because import tariffs on medical instruments were very high and registration was difficult. In order to sell the Vibrovital for a low price — the elderly are poor — he had to do it this way. The article contained information on what to do when a consumer is cheated and unlawful trade is observed. The article was written with a grant from Scoop.
Project: Illegal felling of juniper trees
Medium: Sevastopolskaya Gazeta (Crimea)
Journalist: Vladimir Kuzovlev
Date: 20 May 2004
Description: Woods of old juniper trees grow on the Crimean coast. Even though this type of tree is listed on the Red List, an overview of endangered and plants and animals. However, timber from juniper trees is widely available on the market, and jewellery made from juniper wood is very fashionable. The author investigated the illegal felling and trade in juniper timber and talked with tree cutters, traders and surveillance officials. The trees were cut down during the night. Impunity was almost guaranteed, because of a lack of surveillance. The timber was sold to wood factories in Sevastopol, which functioned practically illegal. People make jewellery and cutlery from the sweet-smelling juniper wood in illegal workshops and traders sell the products openly on the streets. There is a high demand for the jewellery and cutlery made of juniper wood in Ukraine, Russia and even the West. Small boxes of juniper are sold for 5 dollars in Sevastopol, for 10 dollars in Kiev, for 15 to 20 dollars in Moscow and for 25 dollars in Amsterdam. If this trade continues without abating, it will take only ten to fifteen years before the juniper woods have vanished. Scoop supported this investigation with a grant.
Project: Gang tries to buy dirty bomb materials
Medium: News of the World
Journalist: Mazher Mahmood
Date: October 2004
Description: Undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood posed as a Muslim extremist following a tip-off that a Saudi national sympathetic to ‘the Muslim cause’ was willing to pay 300,000 pounds for a kilo of radioactive ‘red mercury’. Scientists disagree about whether this compound really exists. It is said that ‘red mercury’ was developed by Russian scientists for ‘briefcase nuclear bombs’. Mahmood tried to lure them into buying the said compound. The British police held four men after the News of the World tipped them off. They were arrested on suspicion of commissioning, preparing or instigating acts of terrorism. Unfortunately, our attempts to contact Mahmood resulted in a fax from the editor of the News of the World. Mahmood wishes to remain anonymous.
Project: An anthology of investigative reporting
Medium: Book: Tell me no lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs
Journalist: John Pilger (ed.)
Description: The book contains various reports on the Global War on Terror and the role of the British. It features a report from Robert Fisk (2004), a well-known British journalist who has a column in The Independent, about the situation in Iraq. Another report (2002-2003) by Richard Norton-Taylor, the security affairs editor of The Guardian, criticises the British role in America’s ventures in the Middle East. Mark Curtis, who is not a journalist but the director of the World Development Movement, writes about British complicity in human rights abuses in Indonesia (2003). The book is highly political both in representation and selection of facts, but considered to be the pinnacle of investigative journalism by many interviewees.
Project: Bribing Saudi officials by arms firm BAe Systems
Medium: The Guardian
Journalist: David Leigh, Rob Evans
Description: Leigh, sometimes in conjunction with Evans, did a huge number of stories on the bribery practices of arms firm BAe Systems. In September 2004, The Guardian exposed a confidential letter that had been sent from the Serious Fraud Office of the Ministry of Defence, which highlighted the possible existence of a ‘slush fund’, which could be used to bribe Saudi officials. In October, the BBC then reported that sixty million pounds had been taken from this fund to provide said officials with all sorts of incentives, including prostitutes, Rolls-Royces and Californian holidays. Leigh and Evans then published BAe documents on The Guardian website confirming their allegations. BAe still claims it is innocent of any wrongdoing. The police has investigated the matter and made two arrests in November 2004.
Project: British American Tobacco
Medium: The Guardian
Journalist: David Leigh, Rob Evans
Date: 2000 to 2004
Description: This project is a seemingly never-ending story. David Leigh started to investigate BAT in 2000 and wrote several articles about how the company facilitated the smuggling of cigarettes in Latin America and Asia to circumvent governmental taxes and promote smoking around the world. A three-year government enquiry was launched, which came up with nothing. Consequently, no action was taken. Leigh and Evans then followed up with a story on the 27th of October 2004, in which they argued that BAT had put pressure on Prime Minister Tony Blair. They did this by publishing documents that revealed that BAT officials had gained access to Blair in private meetings, whilst the company was still under threat of an investigation.
Project: Rich list
Medium: Mail on Sunday
Journalist: Martin Tomkinson and others
Date: Annual report
Description: A list of the three hundred richest people in the United Kingdom is published every year. Although this is not investigative journalism in the classic cloak-and-dagger sense, it does require special research skills as well as stamina. Since public records are not as readily available as in, for example, the United States, finishing the list requires a substantial commitment of resources. A team of about five journalists works on the list for about six to nine months every year.
Project: Abuse in British jails, mainly Wormwood Scrubs
Medium: The Guardian
Journalist: Vikram Dodd
Description: For years, The Guardian has been keeping a close track on prison abuse. In 2001, this led to seven dismissals in the prison Wormwood Scrubs. In 2004, The Guardian followed up with new stories on prison abuse. In January 2004, the former chaplain at a children’s jail accused the Portland young offenders’ institution of covering up assaults by officers on inmates. Seven youths won a 120,000-pound settlement as a compensation for the violence that they had suffered. In December 2003, The Guardian revealed that the Prison Service had paid tens of thousands of pounds to a former inmate who alleged he was raped and beaten by a prison officer at Wormwood Scrubs. The newspaper also broke the story that the Prison Service had admitted its officers assaulted inmates at Wormwood Scrubs jail in London.
Project: Coca Cola waste product turns out to contain a carcinogen
Medium: Face the Facts, BBC Radio
Journalist: Sue Mitchell
Description: Dangerous levels of toxic metals, amongst which the carcinogen cadmium, were found in a waste product of Coca Cola. The company itself promoted the waste as a fertiliser, which is why it was widely used by local farmers from the Coca Cola plant in Kerala, India. Scientists interviewed by the BBC were so concerned about the find, that they called on the plant to stop the practice immediately. Coca Cola denied any wrongdoing and agreed to provide scientific evidence by proving the safety of the fertiliser, but has not done so yet.
Project: Animal Rights
Medium: Face the Facts, BBC Radio
Journalist: Sue Mitchell
Description: Animal rights activists terrorised a village in Staffordshire. A guinea pig farmer was threatened in order to stop him breeding the animals. He received a letter bomb. Then the activists started threatening the people around him: the person that delivered fuel to the farm, as well as the local pub. People were so afraid they initially wouldn’t speak out. The BBC traced the activists and interviewed them as well. In the end, the farmer stopped all his other activities, and actually increased the number of guinea pigs he was breeding, as that was the only thing he could still farm given the limited amount of supplies that companies were still prepared to deliver to the farm.
Project: Corruption in the International Olympic Committee
Medium: Panorama, BBC television
Journalist: Justin Rowlatt and others
Description: Panorama uncovered evidence that the votes of a member of the International Olympic Committee, the organisation that controls the Games, could be bought. Panorama went undercover in a yearlong investigation to find out what it would take to get the Games in a certain city, only to find out that the answer was money. Panorama reporters posed as consultants acting for clients with business interests in east London who wanted the games to come to London. They got in touch with men who said they could help them, professional agents who in the past were paid hundreds of thousands of pounds by previous bid cities to lobby for IOC votes. Hidden camera footage was used. The episode was broadcasted in one of the few peak-time slots Panorama has on an annual basis.
Project: A fight till death
Medium: Panorama, BBC television
Journalist: John Ware and others
Description: Panorama did its own version of the Hutton report, before the official enquiry had ended. It did so without pussyfooting and uncovered the editorial errors the BBC had made by allowing Andrew Gilligan to go on air with information based on only one anonymous source. This made this programme somewhat controversial, because it was an internal affair of the BBC itself, while it was reported on by BBC reporters. However, unlike the Hutton report, it didn’t give the government a clean bill of health either. After the Hutton report came out, BBC editorial guidelines were extensively rewritten.
Project: The Interview with ostracised Israeli scientist Mordechai Vanunu
Medium: This World, BBC television
Journalist: Chris Mitchell
Description: Freelance investigative television producer Chris Mitchell went to Israel to interview ostracised Israeli scientist Mordechai Vanunu. Vanunu is not too popular in Israel, especially with the current government, because he leaked information on the secret nuclear programme that Israel was developing. As a result, Vanunu spent 18 years in prison. Under the terms of his release, he was not allowed to speak to the press, officially because the government didn’t want him to spill the beans on Israel’s nuclear agenda once more. However, according to Mitchell, the interview with Vanunu showed there was nothing Vanunu could tell that the world didn’t already know at this time. Mitchell was detained for a while after he tried to smuggle the videotapes out of Israel. Some tapes were confiscated; however, a copy of a copy had already made it to the UK.
Project: The tax havens of tycoon Richard Desmond
Medium: Financial Times
Journalist: Michael Gillard, Ben Laurance
Description: Following a huge paper trail and crunching an endless series of numbers, two journalists found proof there may be something fishy about the way newspaper tycoon Richard Desmond’s empire was set up. Through a number of very complicated arrangements, Desmond managed to claim tax benefits, for example by paying taxes in Jersey, an offshore location that is part of the United Kingdom, but with a much lower tax rate. However, this lower rate should only be available to companies whose policy is established on Jersey itself. The Financial Times found there were many things that didn’t quite add up, but Desmond refused to answer any questions.