December 30, 2003


Vienna, 30/12/2003

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 attack on Csondy Szoltan, a journalist for Hargita Nepe in Miercurea-Ciuc (Csíkszereda), who was attacked by an unknown assailant or assailants on Friday, 26 December 2003.

According to Media Monitoring Agency (Bucharest) and other SEEMO’s sources, he was seriously injured after being beaten on the staircase of the building where he lives in Miercurea-Ciuc. The attacker or attackers fled after the neighbours interfered. SEEMO is worried about the growing number of physical attacks on journalists in Romania. “SEEMO has been informed about numerous cases in which reporters have been physically attacked in Romania this year. This development is extremely worrying, especially in light of the upcoming elections in Romania in 2004,” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. Only a few weeks ago, on 3 December, Ino Ardelean, who works for the daily Evenimentul Zilei in Timisoara, was beaten unconscious on his way home. Ardelean frequently reported about illegal activities in his city.

On 21 March, the police found the body of Iosif Bebe Costinas, a journalist for the newspaper Timisoara, who disappeared on 7 June 2002. The remains of his body were found in a forest near Timisoara. Costinas had published articles on sensitive subjects, including unsolved killings during the December 1989 anti-communist revolt in Romania and the continued presence in high positions of officers of the former Securitate secret police. Furthermore, Costinas was writing a book about illegal business activities in Timisoara.

SEEMO would like to recall that all threats against publishers, editors and journalists have a negative effect on democracy and the development of independent and professional journalism in any given country. SEEMO therefore calls upon the authorities in Romania to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation and to bring to justice those responsible for these attacks against journalists. We further urge the authorities to do everything possible to ensure that journalists and other media workers in Romania are able to safely carry out their profession.