The South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly condemns the threat allegedly made by a local businessman against reporter Visar Duriqi, a correspondent for the daily newspaper Infopress in Pristina.
According to Duriqi, on 6 January 2011, he contacted the businessman via telephone to conduct an interview regarding an investigation that was being carried out concerning usurpation of public property. After Duriqi asked the first set of questions, he was allegedly threatened.
According to the journalist, the businessman said: “I will find you, wherever you are, and break your arms and legs so that you are disabled and confined to a wheelchair. I will also give everything in my power to get you fired, and make it impossible for you to find another job.”
“This is outrageous”, said SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic. “Threatening a journalist over some simple questions is unacceptable. We are deeply disturbed about this occurrence; any threats against journalists, whether physical or verbal, must be strongly condemned. SEEMO believes that no democratic society can function without the elementary principle of a safe working environment for journalists.”
He added: “SEEMO would also like to highlight that threats such as this not only threaten the well-being of individual journalists, but also threaten the public’s right to receive factually-correct news, and the principle of freedom of expression in general. We cannot accept intimidation – which fuels self-censorship.”
SEEMO will continue to monitor the situation, and urges the authorities in Pristina to thoroughly investigate this case, ensure Duriqi’s protection, and take all actions necessary against the person who threatened the journalist.