The Latvian police have detained Ilmārs Poikāns, a researcher in artificial intelligence at the University of Latvia's Computer Science department on suspicion that he is "Neo", the Robin Hood-like cyberactivist who leaked public sector salary statistics showing that many top officials didn't take government-mandated salary cuts and other austerity measures.
According to news reports, Poikāns, 31. was arrested at his workplace late at night on Tuesday, May 12. The police also seized a private server hosted by the university Computer Science department. He could face up to 10 years in prison for disclosing confidential information with resulting "serious consequences."
The Latvian police also simultaneously raided the home of Latvian television's investigative journalist Ilze Nagle, apparently in connection with the Poikāns, who is suspected of obtaining government and public salary information through a leak in the State Revenue Service IT system. Nagle, who is host of the weekly investigative Latvian TV program "De Facto" , was among the first to report on "Neo" and a cyberactivist group called the 4th Awakening People's Army. "Neo" later published links to compilations of public sector salaries on the social media application Twitter.
The police seized Nagle's computer and other data platforms (hard disks, flash drives). Nagle called the raid a violation of press freedom and laws allowing journalists to protect their sources.
Police spokesmen said that the raid on Nagle's home had nothing to do with " her professional work". Nagle, however, said the police action showed that the Latvian authorities could conduct searches and intimidation against any investigative journalist and seize all information regarding sources and professional contacts.