ALBANIA: SEEMO Seriously Concerned at Continued Intimidation of Albanian Journalists, Following Violent Attacks on Media during Demonstration

ALBANIA, 04/02/2011

The South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East and Central Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned at the continuing intimidation of journalists, following violent attacks against the media during demonstrations on 21 January 2011.

The numerous attacks, beatings, and gunshot wounds suffered by journalists, allegedly at the hands of the National Guard, during demonstrations on 21 January 2011 in Tirana, have been followed by further incidents.

According to information received by SEEMO, a parliamentary commission set up by the ruling party has requested itemised home and mobile phone bills from: Filip Cakulli, the director of the investigative programme Fiks Fare on Top-Channel TV; Sokol Balla, the anchor of the popular show Top-Story on Top Channel TV; Mero Baze, the publisher of the daily Tema; and Andi Bushati, the anchor of a show on Vizion Plust TV called "Zone e Lire." The journalists have all been officially placed under investigation. 
The Albanian government has accused them of helping organise what it calls an "attempted coup d'état" on 21 January 2011. 

SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said: "It is astonishing that suddenly, and without prior notice, the government decided to take such action against journalists who were only fulfilling their duty to inform the general public about a particular event. This appears to be yet another instance of the political interference that we have witnessed in many past cases in Albania"

It has also been brought to SEEMO's attention that in complete violation of the constitution, human rights and freedom of press, the decision to obtain copies of the journalists' home and mobile phone bills will be enforced by a parliamentary committee. 
 
"SEEMO urges the political powers in Albania to refrain from pressuring the country's media representatives," Vujovic said."We further insist that they support and foster an independent media instead of obstructing it."

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