Serbia: Investigative outlet KRIK sued by state security agency…

Serbia: Investigative outlet KRIK sued by state security agency director

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) is deeply concerned by the lawsuit targeted at a journalist and the editor-in-chief of the Network for Investigation of Crime and Corruption (KRIK) by the director of Serbia’s Security-Information Agency (BIA).

The MFRR urges the BIA director Bratislav Gasic to immediately withdraw the civil lawsuit against KRIK and to refrain from weaponising the law to intimidate media outlets investigating the nexus between crime, corruption and politics in Serbia.

The lawsuit stems from an article KRIK published on April 9 which reported details of wiretapped conversations played as evidence in the murder trial of criminal gang chief Zoran Jotic, during which Gasic’s name was mentioned.

The article by journalist Milica Vojinovic reported that during one of the recordings one accused gang members said that Jotic did not have to worry about his safety because Gasic was “on the cauldron”, i.e. on the payroll of the clan leader. KRIK asked Gasic to comment before publishing the story but the request went unanswered.

In response to the article – “Political connections of the Krusevac criminal group: ‘Jotka had Gasic on the cauldron’ – the BIA director denied the allegations and accused KRIK’s journalist of presenting “a malicious interpretation of the wiretapped conversation” which damaged his “reputation and honour”. The 500,000 dinars (€4,250) lawsuit called on the court to “let the media know that borders exist and must be respected.”

KRIK editor-in-chief, Stevan Dojčinović, has rightly defended the article and said KRIK is prepared to fight the case in court, stressing it simply conveyed information from evidence presented during the trial, which was held under normal reporting conditions. The article reported numerous other details from the intercepted phone conversations about alleged criminal associations with unnamed government ministers.

Journalists are free to publish anything which is said or given as evidence in a Serbian court. The information reported by KRIK was presented as evidence by the prosecution, it was reported accurately, and the BIA director was given the chance to respond, in line with standard journalistic practice.

Our organisations therefore consider this lawsuit to be groundless and hope it will be swiftly dismissed by the courts. It is an unacceptable attempt to pressure KRIK not to report information which is clearly in the public interest. This lawsuit also comes on the back of a concerted and baseless smear campaign against KRIKs journalists in recent months which has been fanned by certain politicians.

These kinds of vexatious demands for damages against investigative media outlets burden them with costly legal fees and lengthy court battles, distracting from their job of exposing wrongdoing and holding power to account. In Serbia, such lawsuits have all too often been instrumentalised by politicians or powerful individuals to try and stifle independent reporting, as our recent MFRR report outlined.

We call on Director Gasic to withdraw the lawsuit and for public officials and politicians in Serbia to stop using insult and defamation laws as a tool to intimidate critical journalism. Courts must fully comply with international freedom of expression standards when ruling on cases brought by public officials against media which involve claims involving harm in the form of mental anguish.

As our MFRR report notes, press and media freedom in Serbia are in serious need of improvement. An end to baseless lawsuits against journalists and independent media outlets by the country’s public officials would be a good place to start.

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa

Solidarity with DJV Thuringia targeted by a wave of…

Germany: Solidarity with DJV Thuringia targeted by a wave of hate speech and threats

The German Journalist Association (DJV) in Thuringia has been subjected to an alarming wave of hate speech and threats since 1 May, peaking with a death threat addressed to its managing director Sebastian Scholz. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) stands in solidarity with DJV and urges the police to investigate the case.

The DJV in Thuringia have received numerous hate emails and threatening phone calls since an incident on 1 May. During a demonstration, its managing director Sebastian Scholz – no longer working as a journalist – tripped up a demonstrator from the “Querdenker” movement as a reaction to the same protestor previously violently breaking through a police chain and hitting and injuring a cameraman. Scholz actually intervened to bring down a violent demonstrator who was trying to escape. However, the shortened video clips that were distributed widely doesn’t mention the whole story.

Regarding the hatred, threats and insults that were stirred by the dissemination of this video, the DJV Thuringia stated: “It shows very clearly that these people are not interested in facts, but that they are only looking for reasons for violence and hatred. We, the board of directors of the DJV Thuringia, condemn the way in which self-appointed defenders of democracy twist the facts and incite violence against our managing director.

The DJV Thuringia received approximately 500 mails, Facebook comments and Facebook messages, a majority of which were insults and threats. Also, an anonymous criminal complaint was filed against Scholz. This campaign against the DJV Thuringia now culminated in a death threat against Sebastian Scholz on 11 May. As seen in thisvideo, a caller threatened Scholz directly, saying, “If he trips a protester again, he will be shot in the head!”.

The DJV Thuringia reported the hate messages to the criminal police and have filed a criminal complaint. In addition, the criminal police have initiated ex officio investigations. The EFJ surges the authorities to hold accountable those behind the campaign .

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the President of the EFJ, said:

The appalling hate campaigns that German media workers face, sometimes leading to press freedom violations, and now these death threats must stop. Society has a responsibility to ensure a safe environment for journalists and need to follow up on both the recommendation from the Council of Europe and the UN Action Plan for the safety of journalists and develop a strong and firm national action plan with all parties on board such as police, judges, relevant ministries, journalists, etc. to develop mechanisms not only to monitor but also to address this increasing issue in Germany.


Do not extradite Whistleblower Jonathan Taylor

Urgent letter to Croatian Minister of Justice: Do not extradite Whistleblower Jonathan Taylor


Open Letter sent by email to


Mr. Ivan Malenica

Minister of Justice

Ulica grada Vukovara 49

Maksimirska 63

10 000 Zagreb

Republic of Croatia


Tuesday 18 May 2021


Dear Minister,


Jonathan Taylor is a whistleblower; he is a witness to a crime who has cooperated with law enforcement bodies in seven different jurisdictions and should be protected as such.  He has been in Croatia for nearly 10 months appealing against a request for extradition from Monaco.  Now that the Supreme Court of Croatia has issued its judgment, the final decision on whether or not to extradite Mr. Taylor is up to you, the Minister of Justice.

The Supreme Court of Croatia fully recognises Mr. Taylor’s status as a whistleblower and for the reasons we set out below, we urge you, the Minister of Justice, to refuse Monaco’s abusive request to extradite Mr. Taylor to Monaco and to allow him to return home to the United Kingdom immediately.  

Mr. Taylor is a British national who, during the course of his employment as a lawyer for the Dutch listed oil industry firm SBM Offshore N.V., with its main office in the Principality of Monaco, uncovered one of the largest corruption and bribery scandals in the world that resulted in criminal investigations in the United Kingdom, United States of America, Netherlands, Switzerland and Brazil. His evidence contributed to the company paying fines amounting to over $US800 million and, to date, the imprisonment of three individuals directly involved in the scandal, including the former CEO of SBM Offshore N.V.

Monaco to date has failed to initiate a single criminal investigation into highly credible and well documented allegations of bribery and corruption on the part of SBM Offshore.  Instead, it has targeted the one person who blew the whistle and brought public scrutiny to such widespread financial crimes.

On 30 July 2020, over eight years after blowing the whistle on corruption, Jonathan travelled to Dubrovnik, Republic of Croatia for a family holiday.  He was arrested at the airport on the basis of a communication issued by Monaco on what was originally stated to be allegations of bribery and corruption. Not only do these allegations have no proper basis in law or fact and constitute an abuse of process but crucially, Mr. Taylor, his lawyers and the Croatian Courts have since been informed in writing that Mr. Taylor is wanted for questioning to determine whether or not to charge him.

At no stage did the law enforcement or judicial authorities in Monaco seek his extradition from the United Kingdom, where Mr. Taylor has lived since 2013, until he was apprehended in Dubrovnik, for the very reason that they knew it would not succeed.

Mr. Taylor has made it clear since 2017, when he first became aware that his former employer, the Dutch listed SBM Offshore N.V. had lodged a criminal complaint in Monaco three years earlier, that he would answer any questions the authorities had of him from the United Kingdom, either remotely or in person.  And since his unlawful detention in Croatia, the offer to answer questions there has been repeated on the agreement that he is able to return home to the United Kingdom.

For Jonathan to be returned to Monaco to face questioning in order to determine whether charges should be laid amounts to a clear act of retaliation for his having disclosed the corrupt practices of a major offshore oil firm and one of the largest private sector employers in the small principality.

In March 2021, after the Supreme Court of Croatia partially upheld a second appeal against extradition, the Dubrovnik court was ordered to seek further clarification from the Monegasque authorities regarding the status of the criminal proceedings for which Mr. Taylor was allegedly charged.  A letter from the Director of Judicial Services in Monaco sent on 1 March 2021 confirmed there Mr. Taylor is not charged with anything as there are no criminal proceedings, nor is there any execution of a judgement for which he is wanted – which are the only two valid legal bases for seeking extradition.  In fact, Interpol confirmed yet again on the 23rd March 2021 that Mr. Taylor is no longer subject to Interpol Red Notice. This after Monaco withdrew the arrest warrant in December 2020.


Further, now that Mr. Taylor’s status as a whistleblower has been confirmed by the Supreme Court of Croatia, even if the Minister accepts that conditions for extradition have been met, in light of Croatia’s duties and obligations under the EU Directive on the protection of whistleblowers and the clearly retaliatory nature of the Monegasque request to extradite Mr. Taylor for questioning, we humbly submit that the decision by the Minister should be to reject it.

Croatia is part of the European Union and one of the 27 Member States which must transpose the EU Directive on the protection of whistleblowers into its national legal system by December 2021. The Directive seeks to harmonise protections for those who report wrongdoing and corruption across Europe. It is crucial that Croatia upholds both the spirit and obligations of the Directive to ensure that whistleblowers are protected by law and this includes ensuring they are immune from civil and criminal liability for having blown the whistle. In a case of such serious corruption like this one, it is essential that vital anti-corruption whistleblower protections do not fall down between borders. To do otherwise, allows those involved in corruption to send a chilling warning to whistleblowers and investigative journalists across the globe that undermines all the efforts of the European Union and the Croatian Government to prevent and root out the corruption that undermines the fabric of its societies and the well-being of its people.

For these very important reasons, and because of his protected status as a whistleblower, we, the undersigned, urge you, the Minister of Justice, to uphold the Rule of Law, reject the extradition order and allow Jonathan Taylor to return home immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Myers, Executive Director, Whistleblowing International Network

on behalf of the Jonathan Taylor Support Committee

With support from:

  • Access Info Europe (Spain/Europe)
  • African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (Nigeria)
  • ARTICLE 19 (United Kingdom)
  • Blueprint for Free Speech (Australia)
  • Campax, Switzerland
  • Center for Whistleblowers Protection (Slovenia)
  • Centre for Free Expression (Canada)
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • FIND – Financial Investigations (UK)
  • Free Press Unlimited (Netherlands)
  • General Workers Union Portugal (UGT-P)
  • GlobaLeaks (Italy)
  • Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers (United Kingdom)
  • Human Rights House Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Le Réseau Panafricain de Lutte contre la Corruption (UNIS)
  • Maison des Lanceurs d’Alerte (France)
  • OBC Transeuropa
  • Parrhesia Inc (UK)
  • Pištaljka (Serbia)
  • Protect (United Kingdom)
  • South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), (Austria)
  • SpeakOut SpeakUp Ltd (United Kingdom)
  • Terra Cypria-the Cyprus Conservation Foundation (Cyprus)
  • The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation (Malta)
  • The Signals Network (USA/France)
  • Transparency International (Secretariat, Germany)
  • Transparency International Bulgaria
  • Transparency International EU
  • Transparency International Ireland
  • Transparency International Italia
  • Transparency International Slovenia
  • Vanja Jurić, Attorney at law (Croatia)
  • WBN – Whistleblower Netzwerk (Germany)
  • Whistleblowers UK



  • Baroness Kramer, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Whistleblowing
  • Dr John O’Connor Physician and Whistleblower (Canada)
  • Martin Bright, Editor, Index on Censorship (United Kingdom)
  • Peter Matjašič, Senior Program Officer, Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE)
  • Professor David Lewis, Middlesex University. (United Kingdom)
  • Professor Wim Vandekerckhove, University of Greenwich (United Kingdom)
  • Susan Hawley, Executive Director, Spotlight on Corruption (UK)
  • Thomas Devine, Legal Director, Government Accountability Project (USA)

Media Freedom Rapid Response reloaded for another year

Media Freedom Rapid Response reloaded for another year

”A win for journalists and journalism”/ ECPMF and partners continue Media Freedom Rapid Response 

We are proud to announce that the consortium running the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) was awarded €1.38 million in funding by the European Commission to continue its work in defence of press and media freedom in the European Union member states and candidate countries. The new project period started on 4 May.

In its inaugural year the MFRR, launched initially as a one-year pilot on 1 March 2020, has swiftly established itself as a critical mechanism to support journalists, media workers and outlets under attack. Building on comprehensive and systematic monitoring documented on Mapping Media Freedom, the project offers legal and practical support and public advocacy. In its first year of operation, the MFRR collected more than 403 alerts on violations of Media Freedom, produced 150 advocacy outputs, supported more than 50 journalists directly and conducted virtual missions to Spain, Poland and Serbia.

Pandemic emergency

“The continuation of the Media Freedom Rapid Response is a win for journalists and journalism in Europe. The project combines the strengths of seven organisations to protect reporters and push for citizens’ right to be properly informed. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that professional journalism saves lives,”

says Lutz Kinkel, Managing Director of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom.

“Now, in the second year of the MFRR, we will have to deal with the political consequences of the pandemic. We have to make sure that ‘emergency regimes’ and their restrictions of media freedom will end. With regard to practical support, we will pay even more attention to women journalists and media workers and reporters working for local outlets, because they are the most vulnerable groups.”

The MFRR is implemented by a consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), comprised of ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), the International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBC Transeuropa). A description of all services provided can be found on


MFRR to hold press freedom mission to Slovenia

MFRR to hold press freedom mission to Slovenia

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) will hold an online mission to Slovenia at the end of May and beginning of June 2021 to assess growing concerns about the deteriorating climate for press and media freedom over the past year.

The virtual fact-finding mission will be led jointly by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI), in partnership with the Slovenian Journalists’ Association (DNS).

MFRR partner organisations ARTICLE 19, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Free Press Unlimited (FPU) and the Osservatorio Balcani  Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT) will join along with representatives from other international media freedom groups.

Over a two-week period, the MFRR will meet with a variety of stakeholders including journalists, editors, associations, civil society, academics and MEPs from across the political spectrum, as well as state institutions and representatives of the government.

The MFRR delegation will also meet virtually with representatives from the public broadcaster RTVSLO and the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) to discuss growing pressure on the Central European country’s public service media.

The aim of the mission will be to better understand key developments in the framework of media freedom in Slovenia over the last year and assess the main challenges facing journalists and other media actors.

A mission report published in July will present the MFRR’s findings and set out a list of recommendations for both the governing coalition government and the European Union. When international travel is possible, the MFRR plans to travel to Ljubljana to meet with stakeholders on the ground and meet in person with government representatives.

The mission comes as Slovenia prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU and amidst mounting concerns over media freedom from national associations, international groups and European institutions.

Over the last year, the MFRR has expressed growing alarm about the sharp increase in vocal attacks and smears on journalists by public figures including Prime Minister Janša, and clear attempts to exert greater control over the country’s public service media. The mission will address these issues as well as concerns over journalists’ safety, legal threats and media pluralism.

The MFRR tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU member states and candidate countries. It has organised a number of similar missions over the past year to Montenegro, Poland, Serbia and Spain.


Have your say – One Year MFRR

Have your say – One Year MFRR

The MFRR is entering its second year and we want to make it even better to help more journalists in Europe.

For that, we need your help.

Tell us how we can improve our monitoring and practical / legal support.

Fill out the following surveys

Monitor media freedom violations and threats to provide reliable and comprehensible information on such violations to the general public as well as European institutions

Provide concrete tools, practical and legal support to journalists and media workers at risk in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.


MFRR calls for an ambitious EU Media Freedom Act

MFRR calls for an ambitious EU Media Freedom Act

Media Freedom Rapid Response calls for an ambitious European Media Freedom Act

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) welcomes the idea of a European Media Freedom Act, advanced by European Commissioners Thierry Breton and Věra Jourová.

In recent years, we have witnessed the staggering politicisation of the media in a small but growing number of member states where governments have abused regulatory, economic and legislative powers to punish critical media, increase control over public service media and promote government cheerleaders controlled directly or indirectly through party loyalists.

Besides more assertive use of the means already at the disposal of the EU institutions, we consider there is indeed a pressing need for the development of new mechanisms that can “increase transparency, independence and accountability around actions affecting control and freedom of the press,” as stated by Commissioner Breton in the European Parliament. In particular, EU law should consider media not simply as economic actors, but recognise independent journalism as a public good that needs protecting in its own right.

The current lack of such tools has meant that too often, the EU remains on the sidelines as supposedly independent but effectively politically-controlled bodies in member states make or validate decisions that restrict media freedom and pluralism.

Effective action against this systemic political capture of the media will require both robust tools that empower the EU, and the political courage to deploy them. We call on the European institutions to be ambitious in this regard. During the drafting process, they should consult frequently with journalists’ associations and civil society organisations operating both locally and on a European level, to ensure the resulting mechanism is an effective tool capable of addressing the progressive undermining of media freedom in affected member states. We stand ready to contribute to this initiative.


Serbia: Media freedom and journalists must be protected. Findings…

Serbia: Media freedom and journalists must be protected. Findings from the 2021 MFRR Mission

MFRR Report: Concerns about safety of journalists and media workers in Serbia predate Covid-19 outbreak

Article 19 led report summarises findings of international press freedom mission

While minimal progress such as positive state initiatives prompted by international pressures could be identified, the report raises major concerns about the safety of journalists in Serbia, the polarisation of the media landscape through public officials and pro-goverment tabloids and the suppression and attacks on independent media outlets. The report further includes urgent recommendations for the Serbian government to improve media freedom and safety of journalists.

Key Findings

The safety of journalists has increasingly become a serious concern in Serbia. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already difficult situation. Those involved in attacks against journalists and media workers include public officials and the police. Key cases of concern include police brutality against demonstrators and journalists during the July 2020 protests and the arrest of journalists. Concerns over journalists’ protection predates the COVID-19 outbreak.

Historical cases of journalists’ murders in Serbia remain unresolved. The Commission for the Investigation of Murders of Journalists includes the killings of journalists Slavko Ćuruvija, Milan Pantić and Dada Vujasinović as priority cases for the police to investigate and resolve. In Ćuruvija‘s case, a re-trial started in September 2020, overturning the 2019 convictions of four former Serbian State Security officers involved in the journalist’s killing. The Serbian government should enhance cooperation with relevant authorities to shed light on the killing of a group of 15 Serbian and Albanian journalists and two German reporters in Kosovo between 1999 and 2001.

Threats: Of particular concern are cases of politicians or public officials openly threatening journalists, targeting and defining them as “enemies of the State” or “traitors”.  These are normally accompanied by threats, coordinated online harassment or even physical violence.

Online harassment and smear campaigns are of growing concern for the safety of journalists. These usually follow verbal attacks by politicians targeting journalists and are carried out through anonymous websites or social media accounts. Online harassment generates deep insecurity and uncertainty unsafety amongst journalists, who may self-censor fearing for their safety in the absence of adequate protection from the State. Women journalists are targeted by specific forms of online harassment of sexual nature or involving threats against their family members.

A heavily polarised media landscape between pro-government tabloids and independent media mirrors a divided political landscape. In the absence of parliamentary opposition to the current ruling party, after a boycott during the latest parliamentary elections, independent media are often perceived as political opponents, with some being banned from attending to events of public importance.

farmland in Brittany Library

Concerns about safety of journalists and media workers who…

Concerns about safety of journalists and media workers who report on the Breton agro-business

MFRR partners share a statement condemning the threats and attacks against journalists and media workers covering agribusinesses in Brittany, France

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) is concerned about repeated attacks, threats and intimidation of journalists and media workers reporting on the agro-food industry in Brittany. These attacks, legal threats, harassment and intimidation must end and we call on all relevant public authorities to take the necessary measures to enable critical reporting on this issue.

Despite broad support from the French media community for the affected journalists and outlets, their calls for guarantees and safeguards for the safety and work of those who report on the impact of the agro-food industry in Brittany has been met with deafening silence from both local and national policy-makers.

The MFRR calls for an end to the attacks, legal threats, harassment and intimidation of journalists and media workers who report on the Breton agro-business. The local and national authorities must uncompromisingly condemn any attempt to restrict the right to expression and information in relation to this topic of such apparent public interest and take the necessary action to ensure the safety and work of journalists and media workers is protected, including adequate preventative and protective measures. All attacks, harassment and threats against them must be swiftly and thoroughly investigated, resulting in the perpetrators being held to account.

EU flags outside the European Commission Library

MFRR submission for the European Commission Recommendations on the…

MFRR submission for the European Commission Recommendations on the Safety of Journalists

Following the European News Media Forum, the MFRR drafted a submission to the European Commission as part of their proposed Recommendations on the Safety of Journalists. 

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) submitted information and recommendations to the European Commission concerning the safety of journalists and media workers. The submission will feed into a recommendation by the European Commission to the Member States announced in the European Democracy Action Plan, which will seek to ensure better and targeted implementation of a number of requirements set out in the Council of Europe’s Recommendation on the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists.

The MFRR and its partners provide in-depth expertise in this submission, which we hope will help to ensure that the European Commission’s recommendation contributes to demonstrable improvements to the safety of journalists and media workers on the ground.