February 19, 2004


Vienna, 19/02/2004


Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha

Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria

Georgi Petrov Petkanov

Minister of Interior Affairs

Sofia, Bulgaria

Your Excellencies,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned over the threats against the Sofia-based Roma weekly, Defacto, and the Roma news agency, Roma Information Agency (RIA).

According to information before SEEMO, on 17 February, the offices of Defacto and RIA received four telephone calls between 12 noon and 1 p.m., in which an unknown male voice threatened the staff. It is believed that the threats were connected with the reporting of Defacto.

SEEMO is informed that Defacto and RIA decided to temporarily stop their work, until this case is solved by the police. For this reason, we urge Your Excellencies to do everything in your power to protect the staff of both media outlets. Furthermore, we ask you to resolve this case and to bring to justice the person or persons behind these threats. We remind you that the duty of every state is to enable journalists to work freely.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic

SEEMO Secretary General