Graphic illustration: © Jurgena Tahiri / BIRN

Albania: Private companies are not immune from press scrutiny and ECPMF condemns attempts to target journalists

The continued use of legal threats in Albania against journalists and media workers threatens media and press freedom. As part of the MFRR, ECPMF condemns these attempts to silence critical reporting through the abuse of Albania’s legal system.

Graphic illustration: © Jurgena Tahiri / BIRN

Amongst these threats is the legal action brought by the influential business owner Mirel Mërtit against the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), which investigated Mërtit’s controversial business practices and published stories on three major Public-Private Partnership contracts for waste incinerators. In response to BIRN’s investigative work, Mërtiri filed a lawsuit and demanded damages, while claiming that “journalists do not have a right to write or raise suspicions over his past dealing because he has not been criminally convicted”.

The lawsuit against BIRN was not the only threat to journalists connected to Mërtiri. Artan Rama, a freelance journalist and filmmaker, published a story involving the company Albtek Energy, which is connected to Mirel Mërtit. As a result of his reporting, Artan Rama faces legal actions initiated by Albtek Energy for damaging its reputation, which further jeopardise Rama’s reporting, while also dissuading others from investigating Mirel Mërtit and other influential business leaders.

ECPMF condemns these legal threats and calls on all pursuers to drop their legal actions as they explicitly threaten media freedom for all journalists in Albania.