Czech News Agency apologized to Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych for saying he was named in the Panama Papers.
According to Tennis.com, Czech News Agency and other Czech media outlets claimed Berdych was named in the Panama Papers as per the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism’s reporting. But, that wan’t true.
The Panama Papers refers to 11.5 million files leaked from offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca.
“While the original mention of Berdych’s name did not implicate him of any illegal activity, much of the interest surrounding the documents has been centered on revelations of offshore accounts—which can potentially be used for hiding assets and financial transactions—held by prominent figures,” Tennis.com reported.
Czech News Agency’s Jan Weisser told iMediaEthics by e-mail, “The apology was published by the channels Mr. Berdych requested. He did not request print.”
Weisser said Berdych threatened legal action but the news agency was “keen to cooperate” with his concerns to avoid it.
In an apology on its website, the agency said:
“We hereby apologise to Mr Tomáš Berdych for having falsely reported in a story issued on April 4, 2016 that his name appears in the Panama Papers database. Neither the information available on the website originally cited (i.e. http://www.investigace.cz/panamapapers) nor other available sources include Mr Tomáš Berdych’s name in the Panama Papers database.”
In an interview with Czech news site iDNES, Berdych said, “I find it offensive that people without knowledge of the facts … associate [my name] with such an affair. I just know that this country exists on the map, so it’s all over. “
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The Panama Papers documents do refer to someone Berdych knows, but Berdych said he didn’t own any property with that person.
Berdych tweeted about the apology:
— Tomáš Berdych (@tomasberdych) April 9, 2016
iMediaEthics has written to Berdych for comment.
UPDATE 4/19/2016 8 AM EST With response from Czech News Agency