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IPI condemns exclusion of journalists during Babiš-Orbán press conference

IPI condemns exclusion of journalists during Babiš-Orbán press conference

Several Czech and foreign journalists blacklisted and denied entry to prime ministers’ joint press conference.


The IPI global network today joins its Czech National Committee and the Endowment Fund for Independent Journalism (NFNZ) in condemning the discriminatory exclusion of certain foreign and domestic journalists from a joint press conference held by the prime ministers of Hungary and the Czech Republic.

On Wednesday, September 29, journalists from various European and Czech media were denied admittance to an afternoon press briefing by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in the Czech city of Ústí nad Labemof, which focused on defence, migration and the coronavirus pandemic.

Among those denied entry were Jean-Baptiste Chastand and Magdalena Sodomková from French daily Le Monde, Martin Nejezchleba from the German weekly Die Zeit, and journalists from the German regional public broadcaster MDR and the Czech news websites Seznam Zprávy and Other investigative and freelance journalists were also barred.

The press department of the office of the government said the decision was taken due to capacity constraints. However, images of a list of reporters who had applied to attend with some names highlighted in red were circulated on social media. Those barred applied for accreditation well in advance. According to a correspondent for Czech Radio, there was ample space in the event hall.

“IPI strongly opposes this unnecessary obstruction of free journalistic work and condemns the discriminatory policy of barring journalists from certain media from attending press conferences”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Worryingly, this is a tactic we see used all too often by the governments of both Orbán and Babiš, and across the Visegrad region, to side-line critical press and shield politicians and public officials from challenging questions.

“While independent and critical journalists in Hungary have been routinely denied access to publicly held information without explanation and denied accreditation for official events for years, similar incidents have recently been on the rise in the Czech Republic. We urge both prime ministers and their governments to respect press freedom by providing fair and equal access and allowing journalists to carry out their work free from arbitrary obstruction and restrictions.”

Last year, IPI and the partner organisation of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) sent an open letter to the government of the Czech Republic raising concerns about its side-lining of critical media during similar press conferences.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, journalists from certain media outlets, including Forum 24, were repeatedly denied accreditation and barred from attending online government press conferences or questioning officials on their handling of the health crisis.

In May 2021, the head of the Office of the President of the Czech Republic, Vratislav Mynář, announced the office would stop providing information to several media outlets, including Respekt, Seznam Zprávy, Deník N, Czech Television (CT) staff working for 168 hours and other reporters from the public television.


United Kingdom: MFRR partners join call for justice for…

United Kingdom: MFRR partners join call for justice for Martin O’Hagan

Twenty years ago today, Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan was shot dead in Lurgan, Northern Ireland. To this day, no one has been held to account for his brutal murder. The undersigned partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) stand in solidarity with O’Hagan’s family, colleagues and friends as we call for justice in his case.

On 28 September 2001, O’Hagan was shot several times from a passing car while walking home from a local pub with his wife, who was not hurt in the attack. As a reporter, O’Hagan specialised in stories about drug gangs and paramilitary organisations. Over the years, he had repeatedly been threatened as a result of his journalistic work.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ), of which O’Hagan was a member, has been leading the call for a panel of international experts to be convened to investigate the unsolved murder and the subsequent police failings. Amidst growing worries about the safety of journalists in Northern Ireland, the MFRR shares the deep concern over the failure to hold those responsible to account and the implications of this enduring legacy of impunity, and supports the NUJ in their campaign for justice for Martin O’Hagan. It is long overdue.

Signed by:

  • Article 19
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)

Croatia: Temporary reporting injunction on the Association of Independent…

Croatia: Temporary reporting injunction on the Association of Independent Media Culture must be lifted

The Municipal Civil Court of Zagreb, Croatia, imposed a temporary reporting injunction on the publisher of the news website H-alter following a series of articles about the Child and Youth Protection Centre’s work irregularities. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliates, the Croatia Journalists’ Association (CJA) and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (TUCJ), in denouncing a direct form of censorship.

On 21 September 2021, the Croatian judiciary ordered to stop the articles’ publication and to bar H-alter from further investigation into the actions of the Health Polyclinic for the Protection of Children and Youth of the City of Zagreb, the only social welfare authority in Croatia which provides assistance to abused and neglected children, as well as its director Gordana Buljan Flander. The Court made its ruling without hearing from the journalist Jelena Jindra, her editor, or the publisher. Two days later, Flander announced her resignation live on television.

This interim measure of prohibition was issued on the basis of the Enforcement Act, which is usually used against privacy-violating content in the media sector. This is the first temporary measure that forbids all potential future contributions about a person and an institution.

The measure was taken following the publication of a five-part reporting series entitled “System for the Protection or Abuse of Children?” published on H-Alter in July 2021 by Jelena Jindra. Jindra critically reported on the clinic and in particular its director Gordana Buljan Flander and her associates. She interviewed numerous mothers who discussed their experiences with what they claimed was the abuse of “parental alienation” concept by partners after divorce or separation, and the role the clinic played in the system. The journalist repeatedly made requests for comment that remained unanswered.

A joint press release from the CJA and the TUCJ expressed great concerns about what they consider to be a dangerous and unprecedented attempt of silencing the media. They called on media outlets to publish Jindra’s articles in solidarity: “After years of witnessing SLAPP lawsuits against journalists, this time the judiciary went a step further and directly decided to silence the media. It should be noted that the director of the Polyclinic Mr. Buljan Flander and her associates, according to the testimony of colleagues, have repeatedly missed the opportunity to present to the public their view of the controversial doctrine of alienation which some experts testify often abuses against women victims of violence.”

Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ General Secretary, reacted: “This direct form of censorship of critical journalism is deeply disturbing and must be lifted immediately. The lack of transparency behind this decision – whether temporary or not – is unacceptable and sets a dangerous precedent.”


MFRR partners concerned about wave of abusive legal actions…

MFRR partners concerned about wave of abusive legal actions against Croatian outlet

The undersigned partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) are highly concerned about the wave of abusive legal actions against Croatian online news outlet Its publisher Index Promocija d.o.o. is currently facing 56 defamation lawsuits and nine further defamation suits target its journalists. Three of the cases additionally include claims based on the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and anti-discrimination and copyright law. The oldest active case dates back to 2013, and the most recent was filed this year.

We consider that several lawsuits filed against have many of the hallmarks of abusive litigation which are used by powerful individuals and companies as a means of silencing critical expression. They share several characteristics. For one, the plaintiffs are mostly public figures such as politicians and business owners, including former Member of Parliament Branimir Glavaš, former government ministers Tomislav Tolušić and Mijo Crnoja and the current President of the Chamber of Commerce Luka Burilović, among others. Glavaš, for instance, filed defamation lawsuits after referred to him in an article as a “war criminal”. He served as a general in the war between Croatia and Serbia and was convicted for the 1991 killings of Serbian civilians in Osijek, spending five years in prison; he was released after the Constitutional Court sent the case back for retrial, which is now pending. In another example, Crnoja, the former Minister of Veterans, sued for defamation in relation to a story concerning controversial loans of several million euros.

Another shared characteristic is that the plaintiffs usually request the removal of the articles and damages ranging between 10,000 and 100,000 HRK (approximately 1,330 to 13,300 euros). The cases, taken together, constitute a significant burden on resources of and many appear to be instituted with a view to silencing its critical reporting and, beyond the outlet, creating a “chilling effect” on press freedom in general. Several lawsuits against are part of a worrying trend across Europe, in which powerful actors use abusive lawsuits to bully and intimidate journalists to avoid scrutiny and escape accountability.

Under the well-established case law of the European Court of Human Rights, public figures must be tolerant of higher levels of public scrutiny and criticism than private persons. With this in mind, we call on those plaintiffs who have launched abusive claims aimed only at silencing the outlet rather than achieving justice, to drop their lawsuits immediately.

In the meantime, we stand in solidarity with the outlet and will continue to monitor developments closely.

Signed by:

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

Slovakia: Two Denník N journalists face charges for Kuciak…

Slovakia: Two Denník N journalists face charges for Kuciak murder probe revelation

IPI calls for criminal indictment to be dropped immediately

  • UPDATE 21-09-2021: Shortly after publication of this article, it was reported that the Bratislava Regional Prosecutor’s Office has annulled the criminal indictment as illegal and unfounded. IPI welcomes this vital vindication of Denník N’s public interest reporting.


The IPI global network today condemns the criminal charges against two Slovak journalists from independent daily Denník N involving the publication of a 2018 article related to the Ján Kuciak murder investigation. IPI urges the authorities to immediately drop the indictment.

On September 20, it was reported that the Slovak police prosecutor’s office had filed charges against Denník N investigative journalist Monika Tódová and Deputy Editor-in-Chief Konštantín Čikovsky. The charges stem from a report published in October 2018 in which the journalists revealed that former journalist-turned-spy chief Peter Tóth had monitored several journalists at the behest of Marián Kočner, the alleged mastermind in the murder, including Kuciak and Tódová herself.

Police prosecutors have now accused both journalists of revealing confidential information by disclosing Tóth’s identity as a secret witness. If found guilty, they could spend up to one year in prison.

“The indictment of Monika Tódová and Konštantín Čikovský is a deeply disturbing attack on press freedom in Slovakia”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Their reporting was accurate and clearly in the public interest. It is therefore outrageous that they are now facing criminal charges for doing their job. Moreover, the timing of this complaint, years after the article was published and just weeks before the expiration of the statutory time limit, itself raises serious questions. We call for the immediate withdrawal of this indictment as well as for a review as to why it was issued in the first place. The IPI global network stands in solidarity with Denník N and its journalists, who, together with other leading Slovak media, have played a crucial role in ensuring that the truth about the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová, and the circumstances behind it, comes to light.”

The journalists have three days to file an appeal to the indictment, Denník N’s editor-in-chief, Matúš Kostolný, told IPI. “We will definitely do so and our lawyers are already preparing the appeal.” Kostolný said he “strongly believed” the Bratislava prosecutor would accept the appeal and drop the charges. “We published an article which was correct at the moment and is still correct. The case is connected to the murder of Ján Kuciak. The people of this country have the right to know who was behind the murder and who organized it. That was the reason we published the article three years ago, and we have the same answer today.”

The newspaper accurately reported in 2018 that Tóth had decided to cooperate with investigators when it became apparent that his role in illegally gathering information on journalists would be discovered. Just before publication, Tóth went public himself and commented about the case on Facebook. After publication, he filed criminal charges alleging that the journalists could have put him in danger. This was rejected at the time by the police prosecutor. This changed in September 2021 when the Bratislava Prosecutor’s Office ordered the police prosecutor to press charges.

Kostolný questioned the decision by the Bratislava Prosecutor’s Office, which his newspaper has reported on critically in recent months, to order an indictment three years after the allegation was first made. “I would not be surprised if this was a punishment for our critical reporting”, he said.

Kostolný told IPI that the journalists received a high level of solidarity from fellow journalists and politicians. “The prime minister talked about it, and the minister of culture, who is responsible for the media, expressed her concerns.” The Slovak general prosecutor furthermore urged the Bratislava Prosecutor’s Office to review the case.

“We didn’t do anything wrong and our colleagues understand this. We only want to report freely”, Kostolný said. “I believe that justice will be done. None of us believes that it might end up putting them in jail for a year. It is clearly a stupid case and even in Slovakia, there are normal judges, prosecutors and pollice officers, who will not allow putting my colleagues under arrest.”

The Slovak government is currently working on an updated media law to strengthen journalistic safeguards and the protection of sources, among other changes. “The biggest problem for Slovak media is however not legislation, but the hate speech public figures express towards journalists”, Kostolný said. “We all know the result of this, as we have seen by the killing of Ján Kuciak three years ago.” He continued: “Such violence starts when public figures frame journalists as enemies of this country, as if we are the reason for all problems. This cannot be solved by a law alone.”


Romania: Filmmakers badly beaten while shooting documentary on illegal…

Romania: Filmmakers badly beaten while shooting documentary on illegal logging

The undersigned partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today express serious concern over the brutal beating of two filmmakers who were shooting a documentary about illegal logging in Romania and call on the country’s prosecutor general and law enforcement authorities to ensure all those responsible are swiftly brought to justice.

On 16 September 2021, journalist and freelance filmmaker Mihai Dragolea and director Radu Constantin Mocanu were attacked and badly beaten by a group of 20 people armed with sticks and axes while they were documenting the issue of illegal logging in a forest in Suceava County, northeastern Romania. An activist, Tiberiu Bosutar, who was aiding them in tracking down environmental crimes in Bucovina, was also beaten.

Two of the victims reportedly lost consciousness as they were transported by emergency services to hospital in Vatra Dornei. All three are reported to have suffered non-life-threatening injuries and received treatment and are in a stable condition. All their footage was deleted and the equipment was destroyed by the attackers.

In an interview, Dragolea said the team had travelled by car into a section of the forest after a villager had reported unusual activities. After they were approached by the group, the team took refuge in the vehicle but were dragged out and beaten by four people. The filmmaker was hit in the face and then fell into a nearby ravine, from where he called the emergency services. The activist Boșutar was stripped naked and humiliated. At one point the attackers threatened to kill them.

Our organisations are appalled by this horrific attack on a documentary crew for simply doing their jobs. While the identification and interrogation of at least 11 individuals is a welcome first step, we urge police in Vatra Dornei to ensure that all those involved are charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The interior minister, the general inspector of the Romanian Police and the prosecutor general should engage to ensure the case is handled with the utmost urgency. The condemnation by Prime Minister Florin Citu is a welcome sign that this kind of violence is unacceptable. However, this is far from the first time the media have faced violence for reporting on illegal logging and corruption in Romania. State authorities have failed to dismantle the mafia-style networks responsible for these crimes and must take swift action and measures to combat illegal activities as such.

In recent years, journalists and filmmakers documenting the plight of the forest and those defending it have been among hundreds of people, mostly staff from the national forestry authorities, to be attacked by those working for timber groups. Intimidation is commonplace and whistleblowers face serious threats. The fact that many of these attacks go unprosecuted has contributed to a sense of impunity and possibility to act beyond the reach of the law. The Romanian authorities must also uphold international commitments regarding the safety of journalists and media workers, especially those courageously working to shed light on this environmental destruction. The MFRR stands in solidarity with those attacked and is ready to provide funding for the replacement of their recording equipment and support the pursuit of legal action against the aggressors.

Signed by:

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

EU action needed to tackle spyware abuses after Pegasus…

EU action needed to tackle spyware abuses after Pegasus revelations

As the European Parliament today debates the Pegasus spyware scandal, the undersigned partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) call for an immediate investigation into the alleged use of the spyware against journalists by Hungarian authorities and urge the strong implementation of new EU rules on the export of cyber-surveillance technology around the world.


Revelations by the Pegasus Project that at least 180 journalists in 20 countries had their phones infected by the NSO Group’s spyware underscored the need for urgent action by the international community to tackle the unregulated spread of such technology and to create safeguards for the protection of human rights, including the freedom of the press.

Within the European Union, credible allegations indicate that Pegasus was illegally deployed by Hungarian intelligence or national security services in 2018 and 2019 against at least five journalists, including András Szabó and Szabolcs Panyi from Direkt36, one of Hungary’s last remaining independent media outlets. Fresh revelations surfaced last week when Hungarian media reported that Zoltán Páva, the publisher of the news portal and former Member of the European Parliament, had been surveilled using Pegasus as recently as May this year.

Last week it was also revealed that the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) secretly purchased the technology from NSO in 2019. In France, prosecutors are probing allegations that journalists from media outlets including Le Monde, Agence France-Presse and FRANCE 24 were surveilled by Moroccan intelligence services using Pegasus.

The failure to control the acquisition, trade and use of such intrusive technology inside the bloc means that the number of EU member states to have bought Pegasus or other similar cyber-surveillance technology remains unknown. Current estimations may represent the tip of the iceberg. This opacity poses significant threats to journalistic sources, privacy and safety, undermines media freedom and constitutes a clear failure by the EU to close the gaps in its regulatory framework.

As Parliament debates the matter, our organisations again urge the European Commission to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into alleged abuses by the Hungarian authorities against journalists and others. The Commission must establish the extent of Hungary’s use of Pegasus, identify what safeguards have been implemented and react to any abuses. Until such an investigation is carried out, the Pegasus revelations will continue to undermine journalists’ safety and have a chilling effect on what remains of independent media within the country. Robust and effective legal protection must be guaranteed within EU member states against unlawful surveillance by domestic intelligence, national security and law enforcement agencies to guard against human rights violations, including the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy as protected under domestic, European and international law.

At the same time, the EU needs to protect journalists from illegal surveillance outside as well as inside its borders. Reports by NSO that suggest that EU member states Cyprus and Bulgaria granted export licenses for its technology are also deeply disturbing. While Cypriot authorities have denied to the Commission that it has any export links with NSO, the assurances remain unsatisfying. Meanwhile, the response from the Bulgarian authorities has yet to be disclosed. The Commission must renew its engagement with the relevant authorities in Sofia to seek immediate clarity. If confirmed, immediate action must be taken to revoke the export license and establish how and when it was granted.

EU member states themselves have a role to play. On September 9, after a decade of negotiation, new EU export controls came into force with the Recast Dual-Use Regulation, which among other things aims to strengthen controls on the international trade of so-called “dual-use” cyber-surveillance tools. The MFRR urges all 27 member states to swiftly implement this landmark regulation and to collaborate in a transparent manner with the Commission on the sharing of information involving the export of such surveillance tools from the customs union.

The subsequent annual report prepared by the Commission under this regulation should act as a much-needed tool for holding the national authorities authorising the sale of this technology to account. It will also lift the veil on the potential sale of spyware tools by commercial actors based in EU member states to authoritarian regimes around the world. For too long the industry has been able to escape proper oversight and regulation. The Commission should closely monitor and enforce states’ adherence to the new rules. Moving forward, more frequent compilation of information and updates about the buying and selling of advanced surveillance tools may be required to address a fast-changing market.

Despite the modest advances in rights protection in relation to the licensing of these technologies for export from the EU subsequent to the entry into force of the recast dual-use regulation, there evidently remains the need for an internationally applicable regulatory framework that can prevent, mitigate and redress the negative human rights impact of surveillance technology. Until this is in place, we continue to call for a global moratorium on the sale and transfer of spyware technology. The European Union should lead the way on pushing for international agreements on the freeze of sales of these cyberweapons around the world.

Signed by:

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

France: Journalist Thomas Dietrich interrogated for two hours by…

France: Journalist Thomas Dietrich interrogated for two hours by police

Police summoned Le Média journalist Thomas Dietrich to Puteaux police station (Paris), where he was interrogated for two hours over a recent journalistic investigation. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) joined their affiliate in France, the SNJ-CGT, in denouncing the attempted intimidation and have called on the authorities to dismiss the groundless complaint against him.

The summons followed a complaint filed by the former head of the Chadian political police, Mahamat Ismaël Chaïbo, for “threats to commit a crime or an offence” after the journalist went to his home in Paris to ask him questions. The journalist denied making any threat during the interview with Chaïbo, which took place last week on the doorstep of his apartment and was recorded. During the interview, Chaïbo responded to a few questions and eventually called his lawyer, saying a journalist was asking “dumb questions” and requested him to “prepare a complaint”.

Dietrich was released after three hours in custody, during which the police asked him questions for two hours regarding Chaibo’s allegations of threats. No charges have been filed against the journalist but the complaint has not been dismissed. Dietrich says he believes the action was designed to pressure him to stop his investigation and find his sources.

Dietrich is an experienced journalist who has been investigating Franco-African relations and crimes committed by authoritarian regimes close to French governments for several years.

“We can only be astonished at the speed of these intimidation maneuvers by the French police against our journalist, even though the authorities have twice allowed Mr. Chaïbo to return to Chad, despite his summons and the publication of our investigation,” said Le Média in a press release.

The French journalists’ union SNJ-CGT denounced the move as a clear attack on the right to information: “This obvious desire to put pressure on a journalist who is well known to the Chadian services and the government in power is intolerable. The SNJ-CGT is doing everything in its power to ensure the safety of a journalist who is in the sights of the Chadian regime and some Franco-African networks, so that he can continue his investigations,” said deputy secretary for International affairs Pablo Aiquel.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We cannot accept that the authorities harass and judicially pressure a journalist to stop him from doing his job. We stand in solidarity with Thomas and urge this groundless case to be closed.”

EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez added: “This case is serious as it is an attempt to intimidate a journalist and interfere with his investigative work. Thomas Dietrich was only doing his job as a journalist, asking questions and confronting the facts. His case must be closed immediately.”


Urgent solution needed as Slovenian Press Agency funding crisis…

Urgent solution needed as Slovenian Press Agency funding crisis passes 250 days

More than 250 days have now passed since the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) last received state funding for carrying out its public service mission from the government of Janez Janša, which currently presides over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.


Since the beginning of the year, the STA has been forced to operate without public funds guaranteed to it under two separate laws while a contractual dispute manufactured by the Government Communication Office (UKOM) is played out with the aim of forcing the agency to submit to greater government control.

As the Slovenian government took over the rotating presidency of the European Council in July, an end to the crisis appeared to be in sight after the administration pledged to resolve the issue. However, the reworked public service agreement for 2021 included conditions which left the STA’s management with a choice between its existence or independence and it was not signed. Despite repeated calls for negotiations, UKOM refused and the government instead passed a controversial regulation on STA’s financing. Top government officials have meanwhile continued to try to discredit and undermine the STA on social media.

Two months on, UKOM’s summer pledge to resolve the crisis has proven to be hollow and the STA now faces imminent financial collapse. Recent warnings by the agency’s unions are stark. If some form of state funding is not reinstated immediately, the STA could face insolvency by the beginning of October 2021. More than 80 journalists, media workers and other staff would be laid off. A central part of the country’s media ecosystem would fall silent and an important pillar of Slovenia’s democracy would be dismantled.

On Monday, Slovenia’s Supreme Court issued an important judgement confirming that the state has a duty to fund the STA in 2021 in line with the agency’s business plan. Yesterday, UKOM and the STA announced a resumption of negotiations. However, it is the belief of our organisations that this dispute has been  intentionally drawn out by UKOM to drain the agency of resources, heap pressure on its management and ultimately back the STA so far against a wall that it has no choice but to accept its conditions. As detailed in a report by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), this move to strongarm the agency into submission is not an isolated incident but part of a wider attack on the independence of public service media in general.

As new talks begin, the undersigned journalism and media freedom organisations call on UKOM and the government of Prime Minister Janša to immediately end the economic suffocation of the STA and take steps to ensure sustainable funding before its collapse. This will involve making a genuine effort to compromise on the most concerning elements of the agreement and creating a contract which safeguards both the STA’s financing and its independence.

At the very least, the administration must provide emergency funding to ensure the STA’s immediate survival while negotiations continue. Discussions can then begin on providing back payments for lost income. Moving forward, we urge the Slovenian authorities to provide guarantees that the STA’s funding and independence is ensured in the long-term.

The European Union cannot stand by as the leading press agency of a member state heading the EU Council presidency is silenced. We call on the European Commission to redouble its efforts to engage with the country’s leadership to end the crisis. Only then will the STA be able to continue the mission it was established to fulfill 30 years ago.

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19
  • Balkan Free Media Initiative
  • European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA)
  • European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  • Index on Censorship
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Media Diversity Institute
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • Public Media Alliance
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • Slovene Association of Journalists
  • Slovenian Union of Journalists
  • Society of Journalists, Warsaw
  • South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  • The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation

Slovak journalists denied entry to press conference on high-level…

Slovak journalists denied entry to press conference on high-level corruption case

IPI joins leading Slovak media in protesting move.

The IPI global press freedom network today condemned the decision of the Slovak general prosecutor’s office to arbitrarily bar journalists from joining a press conference on a matter of major public interest on September 2, 2021. IPI urges the general prosecutor’s office to ensure that such incidents are not repeated and to grant journalists free access to press conferences in the future. 

On September 2, the office of Maroš Žilinka, the Slovak general prosecutor, organized a press conference to which several media outlets were denied entrance. During this conference, Žilinka was due to offer an explanation of the controversial dropping of charges of several people, including an ex-spy boss. Journalists from the media outlets Denník N, Sme and arrived at the scene to report, after hearing about the 2pm press conference by accident, but were not allowed to attend. According to Sme, only journalists from four selected TV channels were allowed into the press conference, which the general prosecutor accredited to a lack of space. The general prosecutor did not publish a list of invited media.

“IPI joins leading editors in Slovakia in protesting against the unacceptable decision to block reporters from three leading media from accessing the general prosecutor’s press conference”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “There was no basis for this exclusion, which runs counter to democratic norms. There can be no discrimination against the press when it comes to access to information in the public interest. We urge the general prosecutor’s office to review its practices and ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future.”

In response to the decision, the editors of the three outlets sent a letter to the general prosecutor in which they condemned the discriminatory decision. They also asked for an explanation as to why his office had violated the Press Code, which states that journalists have free access to information. “It is not clear to us by what criterion you excluded journalists from the three major news media from informing the public”, the letter, signed by Beata Balogová (Sme), Peter Bárdy (, and Matúš Kostolný (Denník N), stated. “The argument about lack of space is very poor and we cannot take it seriously.”

The editors call it “incomprehensible” that the prosecutor general’s office ignores the press law, which guarantees free access to information for journalists. “We urge you not to continue a similar selective approach to journalists and not to hide from critical media issues that are irreplaceable for democracy”, the letter concluded. The decision of the general prosecutor to ban the journalists from the conference was also criticized by politicians from several parties, such as Juraj Šeliga of Za Ľudí, Kristián Čekovský of OĽaNO and Ondrej Dostál of Sa.