PRESS FREEDOM NEWS 2017



TURKEY

After new wave of media freedom violations, SEEMO criticizes Turkish authorities

Vienna, 21 February 2017

Vienna, 21 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed its criticism of institutions in Turkey after another rise in violations against journalists.

Since 14 February Deniz Yucel (Deniz Yücel), a German-Turkish journalist, correspondent for German newspaper Die Welt, is in police custody: According to the regulations of the state of emergency, he can be held in police custody for up to 14 days without a hearing before a judge. Yucel presented himself at police headquarters to answer investigators’ questions after being sought out in connection to a hacker scandal and publishing of emails from the private email account of Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.

The information was reported by a number of outlets and more than six journalists have so far been detained in relation to this case. Yucel was accused of allegedly “being a member of a terrorist organization, disseminating terrorist propaganda and misuse of data”.

On the same evening of 14 February, pro-Kurdish journalist Selahattin Aslan was detained by airport security after his arrival from Diyarbakir to Istanbul. According to sources, Aslan is being held at the Istanbul Department of Police, and his investigation details are unavailable due to a confidentiality order that was issued.

On 17 February, satirical magazine Girgir was closed after the paper published a caricature of the Prophet Moses on its cover page. The caricaturist and all other employees have been laid off.  An investigation has been launched on the charges of "insulting religious values adopted by a group of people" which is in the Turkish Criminal Code (Article 216).

According to representatives of the Turkish opposition, the number of jailed journalists has exceeded 150. "More Turkish journalists are currently in jail than were in prison under junta rule in the 1980s", main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu from  the CHP ("Republican People's Party") said. According to SEEMO evidence, Turkey also closed down more than 140 media outlets since the attempted coup in July 2016.

“We harshly condemn the behavior and actions of authorities in Turkey towards journalists” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated today. “Arrests, detentions, legal charges and other pressures are nothing more but a form of intimidation committed by the very same institutions that ought to protect journalists and their rights. We call on them to drop charges and release all media workers that are currently in detention or awaiting trial on charges of belonging to a terrorist group and similar absurdities. There is no justice if legal processes against journalists are not transparent and truthful. The only weapon journalists use is their word, so these brutal retaliations against them concern us continuously” Vujovic added.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


SERBIA

SEEMO condemns behavior of local authorities in Serbia towards journalist

Vienna, 14 February 2017

Vienna, 14 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemned the behavior of local authorities in Serbia after their unacceptable and unprofessional behavior towards a journalist from the daily paper Danas.

Despite having sent a press release inviting members of the media to an event in Belgrade, Serbia, the City administration decided that a journalist from the daily Danas was not welcome to attend the gathering. Once at the location of the event, the journalist was told by members of the city PR Services that he cannot be present at the opening of a new wheelchair ramp, out of fear that he might ask a City Manager also present there some “tricky questions”.  He was also told that the invitation to Danas was revoked earlier that day because of “certain articles they had written in the previous days”.

SEEMO call Belgrade City administration, as well as the City Manager in attendance to publically apologize to the journalist and to the daily Danas as well. Press conferences and events by public authorities must be open for journalists and It is unacceptable to revoke invitations and forbid journalists from attending an event.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


UKRAINE

SEEMO alarmed after attack on journalist’s safety

Vienna, 13 February 2017

Vienna, 13 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern after the vehicle of journalist Sergey Goos was torched by unknown perpetrators.

In the night between 11 and 12 February, Goos’ car was set on fire in the courtyard of the building where he lives in the city of Kamianske, located in the Dnipropetrovsk region of Ukraine.

According to the journalist and the journalistic union in the country, this was a warning sign to those who speak truth and are critical of the establishment in Ukraine. Goos is the editor-in-chief of a local newspaper and former President of the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU). He also stated that he had “no doubt” his car was torched because of the paper’s professional and truthful work.

“We harshly condemn this attempt at intimidation” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said this morning. “Not only is this a gruesome threat and sign of intolerance, it also shows us, once again, how dire the media situation in Ukraine currently is. We call on authorities to launch a transparent and prompt investigation, and uncover the perpetrators of this crime” Vujovic added.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.


KAZAKHSTAN

SEEMO criticizes government in Kazakhstan for media freedom and human rights violations

Vienna, 13 February 2017

Vienna, 13 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed condemnation and revolt after learning that independent journalist and open critic of the government Zhanbolat  Mamay  (Жанболат Мамай) was arrested on 10 February. He should stay according to local sources for two months in jail.

Mamay is the editor of the newspaper Tribuna (Саяси қалам: Трибуна), which is considered to be the last remaining independent media outlet in the country, known for being outspoken about criticizing the ruling establishment. After his arrest, the editor was charged with abusing his position within the daily to allegedly launder money for a business tycoon, who is wanted by Kazakhstan and Russia for embezzlement. Mamay denies the charges.

This is not his first encounter with governmental pressures: in June 2012, Mamay was arrested and detained for almost a month, on charges of allegedly being involved in “instigating social discord”.

“The Kazakh government has been conducting a continuous tirade against independent media outlets for years now. We call on the government to immediately release Zhanbolat  Mamay from detention and drop all charges against him.” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said today. 

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.


SERBIA

SEEMO calls for transparency within Radio Television of Vojvodina (RTV)

Vienna, 10 February 2017

Vienna, 10 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was concerned to learn about the latest developments within the Serbian public broadcasting service of Vojvodina (RTV).

After several management board changes in 2016, the editorial and journalistic staff of the broadcaster seem to be changing once again.

According to the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV), members of the ruling political party have taken over most of the positions within the media outlet, and have begun dictating new editorial policies. Allegedly, two news articles that were published on the website of RTV were later removed because they were critical of the Prime Minister.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


BELARUS, UKRAIN, AZERBAIJAN

SEEMO harshly condemned the extradition of Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin to Azerbaijan

Vienna, 10 February 2017

Vienna, 10 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) harshly condemned the extradition of Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin to Azerbaijan. A second appeal was rejected after the Supreme Court in Belarus decided to send him to Baku, despite severe objections and criticism voiced from Moscow.

The blogger, known for his travel blog posts, faces criminal charges for allegedly “insulting the leader of Azerbaijan, and making an unauthorized visit to a region which is disputed over with Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh”. Lapshin visited the territory in 2011-2012 and wrote about his trip, after which Baku accused him of illegally entering the territory and banned him from travelling to Azerbaijan. In 2016, the blogger managed to visit the country again, using his Ukrainian passport.

The disputed area between Azerbaijan and Armenia is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but because Lapshin called for the independence of the region in his blog posts, he now faces up to 8 years in prison.

SEEMO members unanimously condemn the extradition decision and call on authorities in Azerbaijan to release Lapshin and revoke any charges against him. Freedom of speech and opinion must be held above any political or national dispute; journalists, bloggers and other media workers need to work in conditions that are safe and that protect them.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.


KOSOVO

SEEMO concerned regarding state of public broadcaster RTK

Vienna, 8 February 2017

Vienna, 8  February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern for the current state of Kosovo’s public
broadcaster, Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK).

The outlet has been experiencing turmoil within its management of RTK  for over a year now. Trade Union of RTK has been several times, also recently under attack by General Director.

Additional the media outlet was recently criticized after demonstrating severe unprofessionalism in their reporting and breaking ethical standards.

SEEMO is also concerned over a lack of transparency in drafting amendments to the Law on RTK, as also in the approval of the draft amendments by the parliamentary media committee without public discussion. SEEMO calls on the Assembly to allow the interested public and professional journalists organizations, groups as also Trade Union of RTK  to take part in the debate on the amendments  

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA - FYROM

SEEMO calls for solidarity with colleagues from Macedonia

Vienna, 06 February 2017

Vienna, 06 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed concern after recent events in the Republic of Macedonia have shown a new decline in media freedom and human rights.

A new campaign initiative titled Stop Operation Soros (SOS) was launched mid-January in Macedonia and is dedicated to “countering the influence of American activist and billionaire George Soros”. The founders of this initiative claim to be a group of open-minded citizens, but have in actuality been linked to the government and pro-government media. This speculation was backed up after former PM and current leader of ruling party VMRO DPMNE Nikola Gruevski came out to the media and verbally attacked NGO’s that receive funding from abroad.

Independent media outlets and non-government organizations in Macedonia are commonly mentioned as “Sorosoids” by pro-government groups, also if they are not receiving any money from the Soros foundation.

Prior to this, it was revealed on 11 January that Daniela Takeva, journalist of a local TV station in Berovo, will take legal action against the town’s Mayor after he left a status on his Facebook. account in which he used derogatory language and hate speech against Takeva

On 23 January unknown perpetrators set fire to the home garage of journalist Zoran Miloshevski in the town of Prilep. Miloshevski is a correspondent for the weekly Fokus, owner of web portal Publikum and associate of the portal Free Macedonia, and is also known for his fierce criticism of the current political establishment in the country. The fire was put out and the incident was reported to police authorities. 

“SEEMO members are deeply alarmed after recent events in Macedonia” SEEMO Secretary Oliver Vujovic stated. “Not only are journalists exposed to threats, attacks and abuse, they are also lacking any kind of aid or protection from the government. We call on institutions in Macedonia, especially political figures, to refrain from using foul and undignified language and hate speech when they are talking to the media, or about the media. This environment of marginalization and lynch atmosphere cannot continue and we ask also an urgent investigation of the latest attacks on journalists in Macedonia” Vujovic added.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


SERBIA

Serbian media scene in dire need of democratic reforms, SEEMO members say

Vienna, 06 February 2017

Vienna, 06 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed its concern for the media situation in Serbia.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic once again addressed members of the media in a tone which is not acceptable. During a factory visit on 24 January, Vucic refused to answer some of the questions posed by journalists present at the scene, and instead delivered a monologue consisting of false accusations against media members and conspiracy theories involving them. He very clear attacked the TV news channel N1.

SEEMO calls Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic to apologize for his unnecessary remarks and intolerant tone when conversing with media workers.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


HUNGARY

SEEMO expresses disapproval of behavior towards media and NGO’s by politicians in Hungary

Vienna, 04 February 2017

Vienna, 04 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep disapproval after a high ranking politician, a representative of a governing party and Member of Parliament in Hungary, along with several other MP’s, began a smear campaign against non-governmental organizations in the country.

The politician stated that three civil organizations: Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), Transparency International (TI) and the Helsinki Committee are groups that the current ruling establishment would “clean out of here, using any methods available”. These organizations receive a part of their funding from foreign donors and because of their independence they are free to be critical towards the government. Now, as punishment, Hungarian authorities are attempting to discredit these NGO’s and make it more difficult for them to remain independent, while questioning their legitimacy in the meanwhile.

The three NGOs Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), Transparency International (TI) and the Helsinki Committee are used very often by critical and international media as independent sources about the situation in Hungary.

The current ruling party in Hungary has had previous conflicts with NGOs and critical media: after a particularly grave period when NGO representatives spoke out critically about the systemic corruption and lack of checks and balances in the country.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


UKRAINE

SEEMO reminds international community of difficult conditions for media in Ukraine

Vienna, 04 February 2017

Vienna, 04 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed disapproval after the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine (NRTC) once again used unprofessional  behavior when licensing media outlets.

On 12 January, SEEMO protested against the decision of the NRTC when TV Drozhd was shut down, the last Russian channel available for viewing in Ukraine. The Council is now delaying the prolongation of licenses for the broadcasting company Radio Vesti in Kiev and Kharkov. The NRTC and Radio Vesti have previously come in conflict, after the Council denied a license prolongation to Stylne Radio, owned by the same company.

SEEMO also joined OSCE Representative Dunja Mijatovic in her calls for enhancements in the safety of journalists reporting from Ukraine’s conflict zones. SEEMO reminded that on 2 February, freelance journalist Christopher Nunn suffered a serious eye injury during fights between Russia-backed rebels and government troops in Donbas, East Ukraine. On 31 January, Pavel Chuprin from the Russian TV channel LIFE, was injured while reporting. The journalist was afflicted with a shrapnel wound in his leg after witnessing a shooting.

“We are deeply concerned about the great dangers journalists expose themselves to daily in Ukraine, especially in conflict areas” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said today.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.


TURKEY

Media situation in Turkey continually worsening, SEEMO members observe

Vienna, 04 February 2017

Vienna, 04 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) stated its alarm after news of new detentions, censorships and oppression against journalist in Turkey continue.

On 25 December 2016, six media workers were detained and their homes were raided, after reporting on the hacking of the Energy and Resources Minister’s e-mail account. The content was leaked by Redhack. DIHA news editor Omer Celik (Ömer Çelik), ETHA director Derya Otakan, former Diken editor Tunca Ogreten (Tunca Öğreten), Istanbul correspondent Metin Yoksu, BirGun (BirGün) journalist Mahir Kanaat and Yolculuk editor Eray Sargın remained in detention for 24 days. On 18 January, three were released on conditions of judicial control, while Celik, Kanaat and Ogreten were formally arrested and sent to Metris R Type Closed Prison.

On 4 February, anti-terror police members raided the premises of the daily papers Ozgurlukcu Demokrasi (Özgürlükçü Demokrasi) and Rojeva Medya, located in the Van province.

Several employees and distributors of these newspapers have been accused of allegedly “being in possession of newspapers and subscribers considered to be related to a terrorist organisation” and “possession of illegal materials on mobile devices”.

The first person to be detained in this case was distributor Hasan Duman, who was kept in jail for 11 days before being formally arrested on 1 January.

Today, technical equipment was confiscated from office workers Ferit Aktepe, Osman Inal, Hamdullah Kumli and Delil Babat and they have since been detained. Yesterday evening, newspaper distributors Engin Diker, Emrullah Kapar and Azad Kılıç were detained in Van.
All of them remain in custody.

“We are calling out to the Turkish government once again to stop this seemingly never-ending media crackdown in Turkey, and release all journalists and media workers who have been detained, arrested, tried and sentenced based on argumentless and factless charges. We must continue raising our voices until the media situation in Turkey changes drastically” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said today.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


ALBANIA

SEEMO members criticize authorities in Albania for alleged media censorship

Vienna, 02 February 2017

Vienna, 02 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) supported fellow organizations in their concerns regarding the recent media freedom violations in Albania.

According to sources, the government has taken the current period, four months prior to the planned general elections, as a chance to legislatively influence and oppress editorial policies of media outlets.

A potential threat to media freedom comes from the ruling party in Albania which allegedly proposed new amendments to an article of the Election Code (78/7), which seem to target “uncontrolled and unregistered news websites”. This proposal could potentially introduce further levels of censorship in Albanian media, given that state authorities would be able to close them if they engage in conducting “unauthorized polls” or “engage in election propaganda”. According to another segment of the proposal amendment, authorities would tackle websites not ending with “.al”, such as “.org” and “.com”, claiming that these are registered abroad. This would significantly diminish not only media pluralism during the elections, but also allow the ruling establishment to discredit and deem as “propaganda” anyone they see as critical towards them.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


TURKEY

SEEMO calls for respect for journalists in Turkey

Vienna, 02 February 2017

Vienna, 02 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemned recent developments in Turkey, which have led to new media freedom violations and oppression against journalists.

On 31 January, former editor of the Aysinlik newspaper Mehmet Bozkurt was arrested over an unpaid libel fine, and he was detained for a day.
By Turkish law, holders of positions in any media outlet are legally responsible for legislative cases related to the outlet. The former editor stood trial for a news story from 2011, which criticized a business organization related to the Fetullah Gulen (Fethullah Gülen) network. After a legal process against the paper began, and then was stopped, no corrections were made to the story. This is why Bozkurt was detained and subsequently was arrested and put on trial.

Prior to this, on 26 January journalist Arzu Demir was sentenced to six years in prison, after being accused of allegedly spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization through the books she has authored, which were pulled from sale. A three year sentence was handed to her for each book, in which she is accused of allegedly “praising a crime and a criminal”. One of the books contains interviews with 11 women who are members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered to be a terrorist organization by the Turkish state.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


TURKEY

SEEMO reminds international community of media freedom violations in Turkey

Vienna, 24 January 2017

Vienna, 24 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep solidarity and sadness after a commemoration organized by Turkish-Armenians in Sisli, one of Istanbul’s districts, for the tenth death anniversary of journalist Hrant Dink.

Dink was murdered on 19 January, 2007 in front of the headquarters of the Turkish-Armenian paper Agos. The journalist had previously attracted the hatred of the country’s ultranationalists and was convicted of a violation of Article 301, which indicated that he allegedly “insulted Turkishness”.

SEEMO had called many times on authorities in Turkey, to investigate all details connected to the killing of the journalists and uncover the dubious details behind his alleged murder.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


UKRAINE

SEEMO condemns closure of media outlet in Ukraine

Vienna, 24 January 2017

Vienna, 24 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns gravely the decision of the National Radio and TV Council (NRTC) to shut down the TV channel Dozhd.

On 12 January the decision to shut down the TV channel Dozhd was reached. With this closure, there are effectively no Russian channels available for viewing in Ukraine.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


AZERBAIJAN

SEEMO calls for respect towards journalists in Azerbaijan

Vienna, 24 January 2017

Vienna, 24 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemned the arrest of Azeri blogger, journalist and activist Mehman Huseynov in Central Baku.

On 9 January, Huseynov was detained by policemen who were not wearing uniforms and held overnight without allowing him to contact a lawyer or anyone else. The journalist was taken to Nasimi District Court and tried on charges of disobeying the police, which in Azerbaijan holds a potential 30 days in prison sentence. It was revealed that a citizen filed a complaint against Huseynov, for which a policeman wanted to interrogate him, but that he refused. He was charged with an approximately 100 EUR fine.

“We call on authorities in Azerbaijan, to respect and protect human rights of journalists.” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said today.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.


MOLDOVA

SEEMO calls out to prosecutor in Moldova to drop all criminal proceedings against journalist

Vienna, 24 January 2017

Vienna, 24 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern after news of charges against Center for Investigative Journalism’s Mariana Rata were filed by former chief policeman of Chisinau, Vladimir Botnari.

Botnari filed a criminal complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office in Chisinau, claiming that the journalist accessed and published information, concerning private details about him and his family, without his knowledge or consent. He also requested that all persons responsible for accessing and publishing data since October 2009 until now about him, his wife and daughter, should be prosecuted.

The article which Botnari is referring to reports his appointment as head of Security Department of a company.

SEEMO members call on the Prosecutor’s Office to drop any criminal charges proposed by Botnari.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


BELARUS

SEEMO warns against cyber attacks, calls for respect of media freedom in Belarus

Vienna, 19 January 2017

Vienna, 19 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed its concern after last night’s cyber attack on the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ.by) website.

In the evening of 18 January, the server of the Belarusian Association of Journalists was disabled by a heavy DoS-attack. The website began functioning normally again this morning, and BAJ plans on filing a case with police authorities, if such an attack occurs again.


CROATIA

SEEMO welcomes indictment against perpetrator behind threats

Vienna, 18 January 2017

Vienna, 18 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) welcomed the decision of the District Attorney Office in Zlatar, Croatia, after issuing charges against a person that repeatedly sent threatening messages to Sasa Lekovic, President of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND).

The person that repeatedly sent messages containing threats and intimidation to Lekovic was arrested for this at the end of November last year, after which he spent a month in detention due to the high probability of him repeating his actions. He is being charged for hate crimes against Sasa Lekovic and is expected to receive a sentence of six months to 5 years in prison.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission


GREECE

SEEMO protests against recent media freedom violations in Greece

Vienna, 16 January 2017

Vienna, 16 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed its concern after several recent cases of media freedom violations in Greece.

On 10 January, publisher of Parapolitika daily news Jannis Kourtakis, and its director Panayiotis Tzenos were investigated by police, following a lawsuit by the Greek defense minister and leader of Independent Greeks Party (ANEL), Panos Kammenos. Kammenos filed a lawsuit against them for libel and extortion, following a radio interview that aired on 9 January. Kourtakis went voluntarily to the police after being informed about the lawsuit, while Tzenos was arrested by police in his office. The public prosecutor dropped criminal charges and both journalists were released awaiting trial for alleged libel. The court case was postponed until 2 February.

Kammenos supposedly gave the Athens Press Union (ESIEA) a list of journalists that he claims received improper funding through advertising through the state health institution KEELPNO. He now claims the Parapolitika executives were on this list.

On 12 January an Athens court heard evidence in Kammenos’ suit against cartoonist Andreas Petroulakis. In 2015 Kammenos filed a 1 million EUR lawsuit against Petroulakis over an article published in March 2015 on the Protagon (protagon.gr) website . A suit was also filed against former Protagon shareholder and editor Stavros Theodorakis. Kammenos reduced his claim to 100,000 EUR during the hearing 

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA- FYROM

SEEMO reminds international community of violations against jailed journalist

Vienna, 12 January 2017

Vienna, 12 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) reminded the international community to keep in mind that journalist Zoran Bozinovski remains in detention in Skopje.

In July 2016, the Public Prosecutor's Office for Organised Crime and Corruption In Skopje, Macedonia, filed an indictment after an investigation procedure against Bozinovski. The freelance journalist and owner of web portal Burevesnik was charged with espionage, criminal association, and extortion. Bozinovski was initially arrested on 7 November 2013 in Novi Sad, Serbia because of an Interpol arrest warrant on the same charges. Along with the indictment, the prosecution also called for an extension to Bozinovski's detainment.

So far, no concrete evidence has been revealed to confirm the charges against the journalist, and he remains behind bars during the ongoing trial.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


MOLDOVA

SEEMO calls on authorities in Moldova to cease attempts at media censorship

Vienna, 11 January 2017

Vienna, 11 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed concern after Alina Radu, investigative journalist and director of the independent investigative newspaper Ziarul de Garda, received subliminal threats and pressures because of her work.

On 10 January, the daily Ziarul de Garda published a news item about the state company Teleradio Moldova presenting an award to Edelweiss Foundation, a self-described “non-governmental, non-profit and apolitical organization”, which belongs to the head of the leading party in Moldova. Shortly after a reporter from the daily contacted Teleradio Moldova for a statement, a member of the ruling Democratic Party tagged the journalist in a hostile note on Facebook, suggesting that the news item was written by Radu, which it was not. The aim was allegedly to portray how Radu criticized the party through the article, which in actuality was not biased nor written by her.

Today, 11 January, reporters of the daily published a more detailed story on the topic, after high public interest. This was followed by a blog post on the website of Publika.md, a media outlet belonging to the same party leader, along with another Facebook post that tagged the journalist, this time emphasizing the detail that Radu has two children and “should be more careful and aware of that fact”.

Alina Radu stated that tomorrow she will be publishing an opinion piece on the Edelweiss Foundation activities and the behavior of the Parliament, given these recent attempts at censorship and oppression against critical reporting. Radu also stated that enticing public hate against her in this way can damage her children and their safety, one of which is a minor.

“SEEMO members send their full support to Alina Radu and the team behind Ziarul de Garda” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General stated this evening.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


MONTENEGRO

SEEMO welcomes release of journalists Jovo Martinovic although concerns remain

Vienna, 06 January 2017

tVienna, 06 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) welcomed the decision of court institutions in Montenegro to release journalist Jovo Martinovic after 16 months in detention.
Martinovic was released on 4 January, pending a hearing scheduled for 19 January and the outcome of his ongoing trial.

SEEMO had previously issued a reaction regarding the journalist’s unjustified incarceration, after he was detained on 22 October, 2015. Martinovic was charged with allegedly communicating and facilitating meetings between members of a drug gang and drug buyers and helping install a monitoring app on the phone of a drug group leader. Martinovic denied the charges, claiming that he was, in actuality, being pressured because of his investigative work and attempts to uncover ties between crime groups and government.

“SEEMO welcomes the release of Jovo Martinovic, but asks on legal institutions in Montenegro to permanently and fully revoke all charges against the journalist” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said today.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


SERBIA

SEEMO distraught after news that a cameraman was brutally beaten in Belgrade

Vienna, 05 January 2017

Vienna, 05 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern after Nihad Ibrahimkadic, a cameraman of the Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency.

The media worker was attacked today in the early hours near the main railway station in Belgrade, Serbia. Police services have begun an investigation, and it is believed that there were three attackers. Ibrahimkadic obtained serious injuries during the attack, and is hospitalized. 

“We at SEEMO are deeply concerned after this violent altercation, and expect authorities to do everything they can to find the perpetrators. Nihad Ibrahimkadic was left with very serious, even life threatening injuries. Every single media worker must be protected by the state to the fullest” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said today.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


SERBIA

State of the media in Serbia deeply concerning, SEEMO members agree

Vienna, 04 January 2017

Vienna, 04 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed its alarm regarding the state of media freedom and freedom of speech in Serbia.

After repeated concerns have been left unanswered by the state, SEEMO reiterated its support for the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV), when they reminded the public that Nenad Mihailović and Bojan Babić, authors of the popular web talk show “Licni stav” have been continuously receiving death threats and hate speech for over two years now. Despite regularly sharing the verbal abuse they receive with police institutions, no investigation or charges have been brought up so far.

Today, 4 January a verdict has been reached in the case of Minister of Internal Affairs Nebojsa Stefanovic versus the weekly NIN. Stefanovic sued the paper for allegedly defaming him in an article about illegal demolitions in Belgrade done in June of last year. A verdict was reached and journalist Sandra Petrusic and editor-in-chief Milan Culibrk must pay a fine of 300.000 RSD (~2.425 EUR).

“We ask the Minister of Interior Affairs to respect freedom of speech and opinion among media outlets. The reaction in this form of a minister, as a public person, is not acceptable. We also call on him and on police authorities in Serbia to react in the case of Mihailovic and Babic by protecting them and finding the persons who are ceaselessly threatening them and their wellbeing for over two years now” Vujovic added.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.


BELARUS

SEEMO calls for the immediate release of three Belarus bloggers

Vienna, 03 January 2017

Vienna, 03 January 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) called on authorities in Belarus to immediately release thee bloggers held in detention for the past three weeks because of their critical views of the government.

Editor of Novaya Ekonomika magazine Syarhey Shyptenska, school supervisor Dzimitry Alimkin, and university professor Yury Paulavets were imprisoned by Belarus authorities after criticizing the government’s alleged “Russophobic” inclinations.

All three are facing up to 12 years of jail time, based on their charges of supposedly “inciting racial hatred”, by posting content of Russian news websites.