February 28, 2024

28.02.2024 – Criticism Arises Over Albanian Supreme Court Decision on Journalist Elton Qyno Case

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expresses deep concern regarding the recent decision by the Albanian Supreme Court on 20 February 2024, concerning journalist Elton Qyno, whose equipment was seized on 13 December 2023, by the Special Prosecution Office against Organized Crime and Corruption (SPAK). This happened after a request of SPAK, the Special Court of First Instance for Corruption and Organized Crime with decision No. 501 and No 502, both dated 13 December 2023, decided to permit the personal search of Qyno. Special Prosecutor’s Office started investigations and registered criminal proceedings no. 245/2023.

Qyno was questioned for several hours by SPAK. Qyno declared in writing that the documents he had were secret related to his profession, according to the provision of Article 211 point 1 of the Criminal Code of Albania. SPAK was conducting investigations within the framework of criminal proceedings No 75/ 2022

Qyno, a journalist for Ora News (https://www.oranews.tv/), contested the legality of the seizure of his two mobile phones, computers and written documents, arguing that it violates the confidentiality of journalistic sources.

The actions taken against Qyno, including the search of his residence, office and one coffee bar located close to the SPAK Building, and the confiscation of his equipment set a troubling precedent regarding source confidentiality for journalists and media professionals in Albania.

The lawyer representing Qyno, announced their intention to appeal to the Constitutional Court of Albania. He argued that the Supreme Court’s decision has violated its own binding ruling, which clearly outlines the procedures and standards that the prosecution must adhere to when seeking sources from professional journalists.

SEEMO expects full transparency regarding the court’s decision from the Supreme Court and calls for the preservation of journalists’ source confidentiality. SEEMO will continue to monitor this case closely.

SEEMO strongly condemns the alarming decision of the Albanian Supreme Court in the case of journalist Elton Qyno, where the confiscation of his equipment and pressure to reveal his source by the Special Prosecution Office against Organized Crime and Corruption (SPAK) undermines not only his professional work but also sets a dangerous precedent for press freedom in Albania. This flagrant violation of journalistic source confidentiality rights is unacceptable and threatens the integrity of media professionals in the country. The protection of journalistic sources is imperative and crucial for press freedom. SEEMO urges Albanian authorities to respect international standards of press freedom and ensure that journalists can carry out their work without fear of reprisal or intimidation.

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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