A prosecutor says three journalists have been detained on suspicion of extorting money from public figures in exchange for not writing negative articles about them.

Prosecutor Cecilia Iana said the director of the weekly Atac de Buzau, his wife, who was in charge of publicity, and an editor, were detained Saturday on suspicion of blackmail.

A court will rule later whether to arrest them. Iana said five people had made complaints about the alleged blackmail, while national news agency Agerpres reported that six mayors in the paper's coverage area in eastern Romania claimed they had paid money.

Local businessman Constantin Toma said Saturday that defamatory articles were published about him after he refused to sign a publicity contract with the paper.

The paper appeared about a year ago.