At the instigation of OLAF, the Belgian police conducted raids and searched Mr Tillack’s home and office and basically trashed both places.
Mr Tillack then took his case to the European Court of Human Rights. He sued the Belgian state, alleging a breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of expression) and claimed damages.
He won. And he was awarded €10000 (US$ 14,834) in damages and €30000 (US$ 44,497.51) in costs.
The ECHR held that the right of a journalist to protect his or her sources was protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights that protected freedom of expression. According to the Court the right to protect sources was not a mere privilege to be granted or taken away depending on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of their sources, but was part and parcel of the right to information, to be treated with the utmost caution in the case of Tillack where he had been under suspicion because of vague, uncorroborated rumors, as subsequently confirmed by the fact that he had not been charged. The Court also described the lamentable and heavy handed manner in which the raids took place. It noted that almost all of Tillack's working papers and tools were seized and placed under seal (16 crates of papers, two boxes of files, two computers, four mobile phones and a metal cabinet). The Belgian police and OLAF even contrived to lose a chest of papers for seven months.