February 2, 2002


Vienna, 8 February 2002

His Excellency Rexhep Meidani
Fax: + 355 42 236 925

Your Excellency,

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, and its affiliate, the South East European Media Organisation (SEEMO), are deeply concerned about recent threats made against the newspaper Albania and its publisher Ylli Rakipi. According to SEEMO’s sources, over the past few months unidentified persons have attempted to prevent Rakipi and his newspaper from writing critical articles about Fatos Nano, chairman of the Albanian Socialist Party. On 3 February, Fatos Nano allegedly asked a journalist to mediate an agreement with Rakipi under which Albania would stop writing critical articles about the chairman. When Rakipi categorically rejected this offer, he received anonymous death threats from persons who also threatened to bomb the newspaper’s offices.

IPI and SEEMO urge Your Excellency to do everything in your power to bring to justice those responsible for threatening Ylli Rakipi and his newspaper, and to ensure the safety of all journalists working in Albania. Only three months ago, on 8 November 2001, another publisher, Nikolle Lesi of the independent Albanian newspaper Koha Jone, was physically assaulted in Tirana by an unidentified assailant, who also threatened him with a gun. We respectfully remind you that it is the duty of the state to provide an environment in which media professionals are able to carry out their duties without fear of attack. We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Johann P. Fritz
IPI Director

Oliver Vujovic
SEEMO Secretary General