SERBIA, SERBIA, 12/11/2001, 14:30
To: Zoran Djindjic
Republic of Serbia
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Fax: + 381 11 3617 730
Minister of Internal Affairs, FR Yugoslavia. Fax: +381 11 636 314
Minister of Internal Affairs, Republic of Serbia (+ 381 11 - 361 76 98)
The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South Eastern Europe, is deeply concerned about a recent violation of press freedom in Serbia.
According to the information before SEEMO, on 10 November 2001, Serbian plainclothes policemen confiscated a tape belonging to a TV B92 television crew that contained exclusive footage of a protest staged by the Serbian police Special Operations Unit, known as the Red Berets. During the protest, about 30 members of the elite police unit, dressed in full combat gear, had erected a blockade on the Belgrade-Subotica highway, near Vrbas, between 2.00 and 3.00 p.m. on 10 November.
In SEEMO's opinion, the confiscation of tape is evidence that the Serbian police is intent on continuing its old practice of preventing journalists from exercising their profession.
SEEMO urges Your Excellency to ensure that the tape is returned immediately and that a thorough investigation into the incident is launched. We further urge you to do everything in your power to end the harassment of Serbia's journalists.