Vienna, 15 May 2003
President of the Republic of Moldova
Fax: + 373 2 23 77 42
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 about the pressure that the government is exercising on the Flux Press Group in Moldova.
According to information before SEEMO, on 20 March 2003 the Flux Press daily and weekly print publications and its news agency published information on the involvement of the businessman and former honorary consul of Lebanon to Chisinau, Mahmoud Hamoud, in the sale of weapons to the Hezbullah guerilla group. On 24 April, the businessman denied the allegations and filed a libel suit against the Flux Press Group.
On 13 May 2003 the Prosecutor’s Office of Chisinau municipality ordered a search of the Flux Press Group offices. The search started at 4 p.m. and lasted for several hours. During the search, journalists were forbidden to use the phones and to contact lawyers. Also, material related to this case, such as e-mails, computer files and documents, were copied from the electronic archives of the publication. The accounting section of the publisher was also searched for working contracts in connection with the article. Flux’s weekly editor-in-chief, Igor Burciu, his deputy, Vitalie Calugareanu, general editorial secretary Angela Ivanesi, and editor Liliana Popusoi, were summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office to testify. On the next day, secret service agents questioned the journalists in their offices about the article and the name of the author, who used a pseudonym.
In SEEMO’s opinion, this is an attack on the journalistic profession and on press freedom in Moldova. SEEMO urges Your Excellency to return the confiscated files and equipment to the Flux Press Group and to allow the journalists to work freely, without government harassment.
We thank you for your attention.
SEEMO Secretary General