During my research on my forged identity story I needed some data from the Bulgarian authorities. So, I addressed my questions to the director of press for the Bulgarian Interior Ministry.
I also tried to get in contact with the Bulgarian liaison police officer based in Giurgiu, in the border checkpoint building.
His Romanian colleagues said it would be very difficult to get in touch directly with this man, however.
Why? Because everything had to be approved from Sofia. And the official steps I needed to make were, first, to address the Romanian General Border Police Inspectorate, which would then send my application, after approval, to the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
From there my questions would have gone to the Bulgarian Embassy in Bucharest, which would have sent the paper to the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior.
From here, in case of an OK, they will address to Bulgarian Border Police and finally the liaison office in Giurgiu.
Imagine all these papers, almost a file, I presume, needed approval from each institution. And the answer would have come back in the same way back to me.
If the authorities’ reaction was foreseeable, perhaps, I didn’t expect such a total lack of co-operation from among my fellow journalists.
I asked a former fellow and a journalist whom I know, to give me some contacts with the Bulgarian authorities or address on my behalf some questions in order to avoid red tape.
But he said he was too busy to send the questions I had already prepared.
Moreover, he said it was about data and statistics that he never heard anyone had in Bulgaria.
Yana, our fellow colleague from this year, introduced me to some journalists, one of whom is known as a good investigative journalist. But he never bothered even to answer my email.
Albena Shkodrova, the BIRN editor for Bulgaria, gave me some contacts with an NGO dealing with the kind of data that I was interested in. Again, no answer.
Instead, in Germany a journalist I’d never met and who I got in contact with through a friend helped me with the police, even though he works for the politics department.
The German police officers from the Organized Crime Unit in Nordrhein-Westfalen needed only to receive a written paper or an email to answer my questions.
Moreover, in a very small German police station, the officers talked to me freely and answered my questions.
Thus, I have realised that both the authorities and the journalists in the countries I have done my research in were just too busy – compared to their German colleagues, that is.
Adrian Mogoș is a freelancer and a member of the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Taboos change – rapidly. Homosexuality was once a taboo in Western Europe, as was “living in sin”, [i.e. outside marriage], abortion, childlessness, physical disabilities, atheism and suicide