The Slovenian Parliament has voted 86-1 to introduce a public-interest defence for persons accused of publishing classified information.

The move followed the highly publicised trial of Deloinvestigative journalist Anuška Delić on charges of publishing classified state intelligence after she revealed links between the Slovenian neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour and members of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) in a 2011 exposé.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Delić in April 2015 in the wake of widespread criticism from international press freedom groups, including the International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate for South East Europe, SEEMO. According to the journalist association DNS, the 9 July vote modifies Art. 260 of the Slovenian Criminal Code to exempt from prosecution the collection, possession and publication of classified information if, according to the circumstances of the case, the public interest in revealing the information overrides the interest in keeping it secret. The exemption will not apply in cases in which such publication endangers the life of one or more persons. To the disappointment of some observers, the amendment also increases the maximum jail term for those found to have broken the law, from three to eight years.
Slovenia is only one of two former Yugoslav countries to retain criminal defamation – Croatia is the other – and is the only one in which defamation and insult are punishable by imprisonment, according to IPI’s extensive research on the situation of criminal defamation law in Europe.

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