April 18, 2024

18.04.2024 – Bulgarian Journalists Under Siege

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is closely monitoring the ongoing full-scale assault against the website BIRD (https://bird.bg/en/’) and its journalists. The campaign is among others against BIRD journalist Dimitar Stoyanov (Димитър Стоянов). The Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria (AEJ) – Асоциация на европейските журналисти – България (АЕЖ) – https://aej-bulgaria.org/en/ is outraged by the latest vexatious lawsuit (SLAPP) filed against the team of the investigative website BIRD.bg by one of the leading politicians in the county.

The Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria revealed that several lawsuits have been filed in the District Court in Sofia, Bulgaria, against journalists Dimitar Stoyanov, Atanas Chobanov (Атанас Чобанов), and their colleague from Bivol (https://bivol.bg/en), Nikolay Marchenko (Николай Марченко). The plaintiff in all cases is the same. Each lawsuit amounts to 10,000 LEV ( 5,118.66 EUR).

BIRD announced that they have been SLAPPed on the very same day when Stoyanov was called to the prosecution for questioning as a witness in pre-trial proceedings for the release of classified information.

They target publications related to the infrastructure around the border crossing to Turkey “Captain Andreevo,” widely circulated suspicions in the public space about serious corruption practices, as well as allegedly those related to the suspicions surrounding the murder of crypto queen Ruja / Rusha Ignatova (Ружа Игнатова). You can read the AEJ article here: https://aej-bulgaria.org/10042023/

The almost simultaneous filing of a series of identical lawsuits against journalists for publications over a short period of time in the same outlet is a serious indicator of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP).

In a press release from 7 April, 2023, the prosecution disseminated a series of insinuations, as well as personal communication of journalist Dimitar Stoyanov, with his source of information.

It is important to recall that in order to carry out their work, which is inherently in the public interest, journalists work and communicate with a wide range of sources.

AEJ insists that the prosecution immediately cease its attempts to discredit journalists simply because it dislikes their publications, as well as to cease the practice of revealing journalistic sources.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) will closely monitor the developments surrounding this case.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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