PRESS FREEDOM NEWS 2017


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.