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Greek police urged to explain detention of German documentary…

Greek police urged to explain detention of German documentary crew

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) sent a letter to Greek authorities seeking an urgent explanation for the recent detention of a German documentary on the island of Samos

The letter, addressed to local and national police chiefs and the Greek Minister of Interior, expressed serious concern over the mistreatment of a German journalistic crew by the Samos Police Department. On 19 October, a German media crew making a film about climate-induced migration on the Greek island of Samos were detained for seven hours, strip searched and held in jail without charges and repeatedly denied access to a lawyer.

While they were eventually allowed to leave Greece, uncertainty remains regarding possible “espionage” charges being brought against them as a result of their journalism. The letter sent on 11 November demands clarification and condemns these acts, which run counter to Greece’s commitments to media freedom

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Italian journalists covering anti-lockdown protests face increasing violence

Italian journalists covering anti-lockdown protests face increasing violence

MFRR partners condemn violence after series of physical attacks and threats against journalists and media workers covering protests against the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in different locations across Italy

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) expresses our serious concern over the string of physical attacks, death threats and acts of intimidation against journalists and media workers covering issues related to COVID-19 and recent anti-lockdown protests across Italy.

Over the last three weeks, MFRR partners have documented at least nine incidents involving 14 members of the Italian media in six different cities, including one photojournalist being hospitalised with a head trauma following an attack.

The majority of recorded incidents have involved reporters and TV crews being harassed by protesters taking part in demonstrations against the government’s COVID-19 measures, many of which were organised and attended by far-right groups.

Querdenken protest in Leipzig Library

Police and protesters target journalists and media workers in…

Police and protesters target journalists and media workers in Leipzig protest

MFRR partners EFJ and ECPMF condemn the attempts to prevent journalists and media workers from carrying out their work at a recent protest in Leipzig against the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At least, 43 journalists were prevented from carrying out their work by protesters and police officers at the “Querdenken” demonstration in the eastern German city of Leipzig on Saturday, 7 November. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) strongly condemn the violence and call again on the German police to do its utmost to protect journalists covering demonstrations.

The demonstration was attended by around 20,000 protesters according to German media – including people criticising the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as people from far-right parties including extremist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). Many were not wearing face masks and flaunted social distancing rules. As the protest was stopped by the police due to the unexpected number of participants, a number of protesters clashed with police, which also involved targeting journalists on assignment.

Polish Protest - Photo Credit: Konrad Lembcke Library

As violence escalates in Poland, journalists come under attack

As violence escalates in Poland, journalists come under attack

Journalists and media workers at risk as media caught in the middle of polarized protests following court ruling on abortion

IPI as part of the MFRR condemns recent aggression and violence against journalists covering ongoing protests in Poland and called for both police and demonstrators to ensure the safety of the media covering rallies. Over three nights, incidents of aggression towards journalists have been reported by various media outlets as Poland reels from large scale protests sparked by a controversial ruling by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal restricting abortions.

Attacks on media were documented in Poznań, Wrocław and Warsaw, where a nine-day long nationwide Women’s Strike has grown into wider anti-government demonstrations and been met with increasingly violent counter protests.

At least three journalists have suffered injuries, including one from leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza who was taken to hospital after being assaulted by masked men.

Slovenia Flag - credit: Balkan Photos Library

Photojournalist Borut Živulovič hospitalised covering violent protests in Slovenia

Photojournalist Borut Živulovič hospitalised covering violent protests in Slovenia

As part of the MFRR, IPI condemn acts of violence towards journalists and media workers covering protests in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana and call for thorough police investigations to identify those responsible.

On 5 November 2020, photojournalist Borut Živulovič, who works as a photographer for the agency Bobo and a freelancer for Reuters, was hospitalized after suffering a blow to the head while covering violent clashes with riot police in and around Republic Square.

This was not an isolated case. Several other media outlets reported that their news crews had been aggressively pushed and faced obstruction, threats and intimidation as they reported on the protests. Photojournalist Voranc Vogel was also struck in the shoulder by an object thrown at police but was not injured, according to reports.

The aggression towards journalists came amidst wider clashes as protesters threw flares, stones and concrete blocks at riot police, in a demonstration reportedly organised by Anonymous Slovenija and attended by around 500 people from anti-government, anti-lockdown and conspiracy theory groups

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Malta: MFRR partners and freedom of expression organisations concerned…

Malta: MFRR partners and freedom of expression organisations concerned about attempt to bribe a journalist

MFRR partners and journalists organisations condemn the alleged attempts to bribe a Times of Malta journalist

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners and freedom of expression organisations are concerned about the alleged attempt to bribe a journalist by a member of Yorgen Fenech’s legal team. We call on the Maltese authorities and Chamber of Advocates to ensure the matter is thoroughly and impartially investigated.

On Monday 2 November 2020, lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran, in the presence of lawyer Charles Mercieca, allegedly attempted to hand over a wad of cash to Times of Malta journalist Ivan Martin at the end of a twenty-minute meeting. Caruana Curran is a member of the legal team defending businessman Yorgen Fenech, who is charged with complicity in the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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Albania: ECPMF condemns bomb attack and calls for effective…

MFRR condemns bomb attack against journalist in Albania and calls for effective investigation

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) condemns the bomb attack on the home of Albanian journalist Elidon Ndreka early in the morning of 30th October.

On 30 October around 1 AM, explosives detonated at the entrance of Elidon Ndreka’s home, which he shares with his wife, children and his parents. The explosion caused only material damage but left the journalist and his family shocked.

We call on the authorities of Albania to ensure that this attack is investigated and prosecuted leading to the perpetrator(s) behind this attack being held to account, with the thoroughness and urgency the situation demands. In this regard, we recall that attacks on journalists and media workers affect not only the victims themselves but also the public’s right to information and the willingness of other journalists to continue their important work.

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Two Hungarian journalists questioned over ‘illicit acquisition of data’…

Two Hungarian journalists questioned over ‘illicit acquisition of data’ from drone footage

IPI as part of the MFRR calls on Hungarian police to stop the judicial harassment of Balázs Gulyás, a journalist at Magyar Hang, and Gabriella Horn, a reporter for Átlátszo.

Authorities in Hungary should immediately halt the investigation into two journalists from independent media outlets Magyar Hang and Átlátszo on suspicion of “illicit acquisition of data” and recognize their reporting was done in the public interest.

The pair were summoned separately on October 22 and 26, respectively, over the publication in both of their media outlets in May 2020 of video footage and images captured by a cameraman working with Átlátszo. The arial shots showed armoured military vehicles parked at the lakeside estate of Lőrinc Mészáros, a billionaire businessman and ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Gulyás and Horn were questioned as witnesses in a criminal investigation into the suspected “illicit acquisition of data”, a crime which carries a maximum prison sentence of three years under Hungarian law. A company owned by Mészáros filed the criminal complaint.

The MFRR calls on the investigation to be dropped immediately to ensure journalists are free to carry out their work

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Investigation into threats against Northern Irish journalist is inadequate

The police investigation into the threats against Patricia Devlin is inadequate

MFRR partners wrote to Police Scotland, Police Service of Northern Ireland and the relevant ministries in Northern Ireland and Scotland to express our concern about the adequacy of ongoing investigations by Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Police Scotland into threats made against Patricia Devlin.

On 28 October 2019, Northern Irish journalist, Patricia Devlin received threatening messages on her private Facebook account, which included threats of sexual violence against her young child. They were sent by an individual with known connections to paramilitary groups and white supremacist organisations. Subsequently, Devlin was again subjected to threats on social media in April 2020 and in August she received a phone call from the suspected perpetrator.

Regrettably, the MFRR observes that to date, no effective investigation has taken place. We call on PSNI and Police Scotland to ensure that the necessary steps are taken with the appropriate urgency that lead to the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator of the threats against Patricia Devlin and to immediately put in place the necessary protection measures.

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Turkey: Arrested for reporting torture

Turkey: Arrested for reporting torture

As part of the MFRR, ECPMF calls for the release of four journalists of pro-Kurdish news agency Mezopotamya Ajansı after a police raid in the Turkish province of Van

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), is highly concerned by the arrest of four journalists during a raid on the offices of the pro-Kurdish news agency Mezopotamya Ajansı (MA) in the Turkish province of Van. This was in response to their role in reporting on allegations that Turkish soldiers tortured two civilians, Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut, and threw them out of a helicopter. Turgut later died in hospital.

The arrest and detention of journalists and media workers based on their reporting on a matter that is so evidently of public interest violate not only the rights to liberty and freedom of expression of the reporters themselves and also the right to information of the general public. Accordingly, ECPMF calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Adnan Bilen, Cemil Uğur, Şehriban Abi and Nazan Sala. The authorities’ assertion that they are not journalists because they do not have a press card issued by the Presidency is not valid. We recall that holding a press card or official authorisation is not compulsory for the exercise of the profession of journalism. We also demand that all journalistic materials and equipment are returned to the journalists and the authorities commit to deleting all copies of data they have extracted from these devices.