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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.

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Demanding justice for Lyra McKee and safety for Northern…

The MFRR demands justice for Lyra McKee and safety for Northern Ireland journalists

MFRR partners come together to commemorate the two year anniversary of the murder of Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland. We continue to stand in solidarity with her family, friends and colleagues and call for all journalists in Northern Ireland to be protected

Sunday 18 April 2021 marks two years since Lyra McKee was shot dead while reporting on riots in Derry. Still no one has been convicted of her murder. As we honour Lyra McKee and reiterate our call for justice, the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners also express our grave concern over the recent increase in attacks and threats to journalists and media workers in Northern Ireland.

A talented and courageous investigative journalist, McKee, in her writing on the consequences of the Troubles for a host of domestic and international outlets, tackled issues of equality and inclusion, showing a profound commitment to social change.

On 18 April 2019, McKee had just arrived to report on a riot in the Creggan estate and was standing near a police vehicle with other observers when a gun was fired towards them, hitting her in the head. The New IRA claimed responsibility for the murder, which was investigated by the police as an act of terrorism. On 12 February 2020, 52-year old Paul McIntyre was charged with McKee’s murder. In June, the murder weapon was recovered and a 28-year old man was charged with possessing a firearm in suspicious circumstances and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life. Both men deny the charges and are in pre-trial detention. The other perpetrators, including the person who fired the gun, still remain at large two years after the murder.

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Killing of Greek crime reporter sends shockwaves through Europe

Killing of Greek crime reporter sends shockwaves through Europe

Following the murder of Giorgos Karaivaz in Greece, IPI as part of the MFRR explores what details are known, the impact of this crime to press freedom in Greece and what it means for the rest of Europe.

The cold-blooded killing on Friday 9th April of prominent Greek crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz marked yet another dark day for media freedom in the European Union and has sent shockwaves through the country’s journalistic and media community.

Karaivaz was gunned down outside his home in broad daylight after he returned home from a shift on the daytime show on STAR TV when he was ambushed by two men on a scooter and shot ten times with a silenced weapon.

While it remains too early to point to a clear motive, Greece‘s deputy minister for citizen protection has suggested a link between the assassination and organized crime, and police have described the murder as a “professional hit”.

The journalist’s profession and the execution-style manner of his murder have raised suspicion that the killing was linked in some way to his three decades of reporting into organized crime and mafia groups, shining the spotlight on the issues Karaivaz had been reporting on at the time of his death.

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Shocking murder of Greek TV journalist demands immediate response

Shocking murder of Greek TV journalist demands immediate response

MFRR partners condemn the fatal shooting of Greek crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz outside his house in Athens on 9th April and call for a thorough investigation to establish whether the killing was related to his journalistic work.

According to reports, the veteran crime reporter was gunned down as he returned home from a shift on a daytime show on Star TV when he was ambushed by two men on a moped and shot at least six times with a silenced weapon, killing him instantly.

The murder reportedly took place at around 2.30pm on Friday as the journalist was getting out of his car near his house in Themou Anninou Street in the southern Athens suburb of Alimos.

The Attica Security Division has launched a manhunt for the suspects and a team from the Directorate of Forensic Investigations is at the scene carrying out preliminary investigations. According to reports, between 17 and 20 bullet casings were found on the road.

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Concerns over increasing meddling in independence of Czech public…

Concerns over increasing meddling in independence of Czech public broadcaster

MFRR partners express our serious concern over the latest efforts by the ruling ANO party and its allies to further politicise the oversight body of the Czech public broadcaster.

The MFRR is worried that the slow-motion yet obvious efforts to stack the Council of the Czech TV (ČT Council) are ultimately aimed at the erosion of the public television’s independence and politically-motivated realignment of its news and opinion programming. Our organisations are also alarmed by the apparent attempt by members of the ČT Council to find grounds to dismiss the broadcaster’s director general ahead of tightly contested parliamentary elections in October.

These concerns were renewed on 18 March, when during its selection process for the next ČT Council election, the Electoral Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, which is dominated by the ANO party led by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, again shortlisted several candidates who appear to have been chosen for their political loyalties or long-standing criticism of the broadcaster, rather than their expertise or independence.

It now appears likely that when MPs vote in April to elect four candidates to sit on the ČT Council, the ANO and its allies in the governing coalition will again use their parliamentary majority to stack the 15-member body with their preferred candidates. If so, it would mirror a similar election last year which saw individuals with clear links to political groups selected.

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Leading international press freedom and journalists’ organisations condemn the…

MFRR condemns the continued judicial persecution of Montenegrin investigative journalist, Jovo Martinović after his appeal was rejected

MFRR partners, alongside leading international press freedom and journalists’ organisations, strongly condemn the decision by the Court of Appeals to reject Jovo Martinović’s appeal and uphold the first instance verdict of the High Court in Podgorica which convicted Martinović to 12 months of prison.

Martinović was convicted for violating the Criminal Code of Montenegro relating to the creation of a criminal organisation, as well as illicit production, possession and distribution of narcotics. While he did set up a meeting with defendants over the filming of smuggled weapons in France, he did so for journalistic purposes. We believe that throughout the detention and subsequent trial, his rights to a fair trial have been violated. Prior to his arrest on 22 October 2015, Martinović had already been held in custody for almost 15 months before being finally freed, provisionally.

A retrial formally began on 2 December 2019 and on 8 October 2020, the High Court of Montenegro sentenced Martinović to one year in prison for participating in drug trafficking. He was acquitted on charges for membership in a criminal organization. Yesterday, while Martinović’s appeal was rejected, an appeal brought by the state calling for these charges to be reinstated was also rejected. This offers little solace either to Jovo Martinović or other investigative journalists who can read the ongoing judicial persecution as an attempt to dissuade and chill reporting of corruption and organised crime in Montenegro. Investigative journalism is not a crime and should not be treated as such by the Montenegrin authorities.

The undersigned organisations condemn the Court of Appeals’ verdict and stand in solidarity with Jovo Martinović and all investigative journalists in Montenegro. We call on Montenegrin authorities and courts to work in line with their commitment to media freedom and European standards, as part of their commitment to the ascension process for the European Union, to ensure Martinović is not further criminalised or persecuted for his journalism.

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MFRR condemns defamation lawsuit against Gazeta Wyborcza Editor-in-Chief by…

MFRR condemns defamation lawsuit against Gazeta Wyborcza Editor-in-Chief by Polish Justice Minister

The partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) strongly condemn the civil defamation lawsuit launched against the editor-in-chief of Poland’s biggest daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza by the serving Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro.

The MFRR considers this to be yet another example of the Justice Ministry’s use of lawsuits as a tool for pressuring and financially draining the newspaper, which is one of the staunchest critics of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS).

We call directly on the Minister, who is also the Prosecutor-General of Poland, to immediately withdraw the lawsuit and refrain from abusing the civil and criminal code as part of the administration’s broader attack on independent and critical media.

We note that this lawsuit is the latest in a string of 60 civil and criminal cases brought against Gazeta Wyborcza over the last few years – many of which have been initiated by PiS politicians including party leader Jarosław Kaczyński. The scale of this coordinated legal harassment of a critical newspaper is unique within the EU.

Montenegrin journalist Sead Sadiković. Screenshot from TV Vijesti. Library

Montenegro: Vijesti Television journalist Sead Sadiković injured after group…

Montenegro: Vijesti Television journalist Sead Sadiković injured after group attack

The International Press Institute, as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) condemned the recent physical attack which injured Montenegrin journalist Sead Sadiković and called on authorities to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted.

During the attack on March 20, the well-known journalist for Vijesti Television was threatened and then assaulted by a group of five or six people carrying Montenegrin flags who were attending a patriotic rally in the north-western town of Bijelo Polje, his employer reported.

A spokeswoman from the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that the attack happened at around 8.10pm as a convoy of vehicles displaying national flags was driving through the town centre.

Police confirmed that two men had been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the attack and inflicting minor bodily injuries, according to media reports.

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Austria: Federal government urgently needs to propose new funding…

Austria: Federal government urgently needs to propose new funding model for Wiener Zeitung

The world’s oldest daily newspaper still in publication, Austria’s Wiener Zeitung, is facing possible closure of its print edition as the government’s plans to remove mandatory public advertisements of companies have become clearer.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its Austrian affiliates, the Austrian Press Union (GPA) and younion – The Community Trade Union, in urging the federal government to propose an alternative plan to finance Wiener Zeitung in order to avoid job losses and further deterioration of media pluralism.

The plans announced by the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and Greens coalition are by no means new. The mandatory public advertisements of companies in Wiener Zeitung’s official gazette have been discussed and criticised for some time. Such advertisements include announcements of companies’ establishments or terminations, the publication of annual financial statements or invitations to general meetings. Now, with the implementation of the EU directive – expected to come into force in January 2022– on the “use of digital tools and procedures in company law”, the state-owned newspaper would lose this income, which constitutes three quarters of the funding for its print version.

Such substantial removal would leave the historical Wiener Zeitung without a sustainable funding model. So far, the government only alluded to plans to create a “new business model for the Wiener Zeitung with the aim of maintaining the brand”. However, details of how this massive loss of revenue should be compensated for have not been disclosed. The continuation of the print version is impossible without compensation.

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Call for justice for murdered radio presenter Hazim Özsu

Call for justice for murdered radio presenter Hazim Özsu

The MFRR condemns the murder of radio presenter Hazim Özsu in Turkey and calls for a swift and thorough investigation and prosecution that leads to justice

In the evening of 9th March, radio presenter Hazım Özsu was killed by a person who came to his house in Altınova Neighborhood in Osmangazi district. According to local media reports, the suspected killer was a long-term listener and had previously called the radio station to make complaints and demand corrections about its content.

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) calls on the Turkish authorities to ensure a swift and thorough investigation and prosecution that results in the perpetrator being held to account in court.