12 May 2004

Following an information request and a court appeal by a Hristo Hristov, a Bulgarian journalist, the five-member panel of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) obliged the Minister of Interior (MI) to provide access to archival documents.

 

While studying the facts surrounding the assassination of the Bulgarian journalist Georgi Markov in London in the 1970s, Mr. Hristov requested access to MI archival documents containing security services files about the Bulgarian units of BBC, Free Europe and Deusche Welle. Initially the Minister did not respond to the information request, but then claimed that such documents were not kept in the archive of the Ministry of Interior. The appeal against the refusal was filed with the assistance of AIP but was rejected by the three-member panel of SAC.

 

A week ago (on May 05, 2004) the five-member panel of Supreme Administrative Court reversed the first-instance decision and obliged the respondent to provide access to the requested information. The court believed that the presented evidence on the case proved the existence of the requested information in the MI archives and the journalist had already read some of the related documents of the former security services. Even if part of the documents had not been available, under the procedures of the Access to Public Information Act the Ministry of Interior had to indicate where they could be found. The peremptory judgment of the second-instance court is notable because instead of returning the file to the respondent for reconsideration, it decided the case in substance and obliged the Minister to provide full access to the requested information. Description of the case can be found herehttp://aip-bg.org/library/dela/case32.htm