The South East European Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the alleged threat made by a police spokesman against Bulgarian BGNES news agency journalist Ivan Yanev.
On 8 February 2010 Yanev was investigating the murder of a policeman in the village of Enina in Bulgaria when he was threatened by a police spokesman from the nearby city of Stara Zagora who stated that Yanev was a “dead man.”
Yanev was accused of reporting on the murder before the official police version was released and is now banned from returning to the crime scene.
The Bulgarian interior minister has been informed about the threat but so far has not taken any action. Since the threat was made, BGNES reporters have not been given any further information and are unable to visit any crime scenes.
“Journalists must be able to report without fear of harassment and intimidation,” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated. “Such behaviour is obviously aimed at intimidating journalists and investigative reporters in Bulgaria and are seen as attempts to scare them and obstruct their work”.
Vujovic added: “Since the beginning of 2010 SEEMO has reacted to the following cases in Bulgaria: the attack on Lidia Pavlova – SEEMO sent a letter to the Bulgarian Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior on 29 January 2010; the two attacks on TV Skat, on 2 February 2010 and 3 February 2010; and the attack on a bTV journalist on 10 February 2010. It is a very worrying that within a short timeframe several cases of verbal and physical assaults have been reported in Bulgaria and it is even more alarming that so far no answers have been received from state officials and the police.”
SEEMO believes that a safe working environment for journalists is a fundamental principle of any democratic society, and therefore urges the Bulgarian authorities to investigate these cases immediately and to take all necessary action against those responsible and finally start preventing such cases from happening.