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MFRR partners and media freedom organisations condemn conviction of…

Montenegro: journalism is not a crime

The ​Media Freedom Rapid Response​ partners and media freedom organisations strongly condemn the decision by the High Court of Montenegro to sentence investigative journalist Jovo Martinovic​ to one year in prison for participating in drug trafficking.

Jovo Martinovic’s conviction is a gross injustice, following almost five years of judicial persecution merely for doing his job. Beyond the violation of Martinovic’s human rights, his prosecution and conviction moreover contribute to a chilling effect on media freedom in Montenegro and raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of the rule of law in the country, a key condition for accession to the European Union. Questions remain as to the court’s readiness to take into consideration evidence from the defence or establish an understanding of the journalistic practices that readily explain Martinovic’s actions.

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ECPMF urges action upon publication of the first EU…

ECPMF urges action upon publication of the first EU Annual Rule of Law Report

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response, welcomes the publication of the first EU Annual Rule of Law Report, and we appreciate that a number of the concerns we raised in the preparatory phase have been taken into account.

In April 2020, together with other civil society organisations, the ECPMF and several other MFRR partners provided recommendations for safeguarding media freedom and pluralism through the European Rule of Law Mechanism, including specific recommendations for the Annual Rule of Law Report. Among other things, we underlined the importance of the Report covering the wide range of challenges faced by journalists and the media sector. This includes assessments of transparency of ownership and government interference; whether the environment is conducive to an independent and pluralistic media landscape, online and offline; and, the framework for the protection of journalists and media workers.

Nello Scavo at the memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia Library

ECPMF condemns insults against Nello Scavo outside the courthouse

ECPMF condemns insults against Nello Scavo outside the courthouse

Harassment of journalists needs to stop especially when they are in court following being threatened online

ECPMF condemns the insults faced by Italian journalist Nello Scavo as he left the court in Valletta. Scavo was testifying in the criminal case against Neville Gafà, who had threatened him online. Upon leaving the hearing, Scavo and Maltese blogger Manuel Delia were insulted with vulgar epithets shouted in Italian by a crowd of people who had amassed in apparent support of Gafà.

Photo: Alessandra Dee Crespo for Repubblika

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Slovenian investigative news outlet Necenzurirano hit with 39 SLAPP…

Slovenian investigative news outlet Necenzurirano hit with 39 SLAPP lawsuits

MFRR partners and leading press freedom organisations condemning brazen defamation cases against Slovenian media outlet

MFRR partners and 11 press freedom organisations express our grave concern over the barrage of vexatious defamation lawsuits targeting journalists working for the investigative news website Necenzurirano in Slovenia over the last two months.

Since August journalists Primož Cirman, Vesna Vukovic and Tomaž Modic have each had 13 different criminal lawsuits lodged against them by Rok Snežić, a tax expert and unofficial financial advisor to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, bringing the total so far to 39.

The lawsuits target the journalists’ joint reporting over the last three years on Snežić’s business dealings and alleged involvement in an illegal loan to Janša’s ruling SDS party. The reporting was published in and then, the portal the three journalists founded in January 2020.

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Hungarian embassies instructed to inform on journalists’ EU trips

Hungarian embassies instructed to inform on journalists’ EU trips

As part of the MFRR, IPI is concerned by reports of foreign monitoring of Hungarian journalists in EU countries.

The International Press Institute (IPI) expressed serious concern over reports that the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested its embassies in EU countries to monitor Hungarian journalists and media workers and deliver information to the Hungarian government.

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MFRR condemns the escalating judicial harassment of Can Dündar…

MFRR condemns the escalating judicial harassment of Can Dündar by Turkey

The MFRR condemns the decision of the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court ruling that journalist Can Dündar, who lives in exile in Germany, will be considered a fugitive and have his entire property confiscated if he does not appear in Turkish court within 15 days.

We believe that the prosecutions against Can Dündar are politically-motivated and form part of a campaign of harassment. We call for all charges against him to be dropped, an immediate reversal of this recent decision and an end to the judicial harassment of Dündar for his journalistic activities.

The threat to confiscate Can Dündar’s property is especially worrying as it could affect his family members still in Turkey, a tactic potentially deployed to persuade Dündar to return to the country, even with the ongoing risk of prosecution. The sustained campaign by the Turkish authorities against Dündar for his journalistic activities is emblematic of the crackdown on critical reporting and independent press in the country, and violates the country’s international and domestic human rights obligations.

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MFRR will monitor SLAPP trials against Gazeta Wyborcza in…

ARTICLE 19 as part of the MFRR will monitor SLAPP trials against Gazeta Wyborcza

ARTICLE 19 will monitor the SLAPP action brought against Gazeta Wyborcza taking place on 18th September.  Since 2015, Gazeta Wyborcza has received over 55 legal threats, including civil defamation actions and alleged infringement of personal interests by a number of actors including Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party; the public television broadcaster, Telewizja Polska SA and state owned companies.

The first case which Media Freedom Rapid Response representatives will monitor is scheduled for 18 September 2020 in the Regional Court in Warsaw, 24th Civil Division (case No: XXIVC 520/17).

The case concerns an article published on website titled “Jacek Kurski cenzuruje Opole” (Jacek Kurski censors the Opole Festival) where a journalist expressed a critical opinion regarding public broadcaster director’s engagement in censoring artists at the famous music festival, Opole. The case was brought by the public broadcaster Telewizja Polska SA (TVP) “for protection of personal rights” [in Polish ”pozew o ochronę dóbr osobistych”] under Articles 23 and 24 par. 1 of the Civil Code against Agora SA, the paper’s publisher, Agnieszka Kublik, author of the article, and Dorota Goluch, editor-in-chief of The plaintiff demands to publish an apology and a payment of PLN 20 000 [EUR 4600, US $ 5200] to a nominated charity.

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Hungary’s last independent radio station could be forced off…

Hungary’s last independent radio station could be forced off airwaves

The European Union must take action to stop the accelerating elimination of press freedom in Hungary, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today after a government regulator rejected the license renewal of Hungary’s last independent radio broadcaster.

Hungary’s Media Council, which is controlled by Viktor Orbán’s FIDESZ party, rejected the renewal application of Klubrádió, meaning that the Budapest-based commercial talk and news radio station’s license will expire on February 14, 2021, potentially forcing it off the airwaves for good.

Justifying its ruling, the Media Council said that during the last seven years Klubradio had repeatedly violated Hungary’s Media Law. András Arató, chairman of the Board of Directors of Klubrádió, previously denied the station had committed violations that could result in its license extension rejected.

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ECPMF calls on Turkey drop the charges against journalist…

ECPMF calls on Turkey drop the charges against journalist Oktay Candemir and return his confiscated property

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, as part of  Media Freedom Rapid Response calls on the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against freelance journalist Oktay Candemir and to return his confiscated property in full and without delay.

On 7 September 2020, police in the eastern city of Van arrested Candemir, who writes columns for the pro-Kurdish news site Nupel. The next day, he was released after being charged with “insulting the memory of a dead person”, which carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment. As part of the conditions of his release, Candemir is banned from travelling abroad and must check in with police regularly. His computer and personal archive were confiscated.

The charges against Candemir relate to a satirical tweet, posted on his personal twitter account on 3 September, in which he mocked a historical drama series produced by state broadcaster, TRT. According to the authorities, the tweet insulted Sultan Ertuğrul Ghazi, who lived in the 13th century and was the father of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman dynasty.

Photo Credit: MLSA

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Italian journalist beaten over reporting on alleged judicial corruption

Italian journalist beaten over reporting on alleged judicial corruption

As part of the MFRR, IPI calls for thorough investigation into brazen daylight attack on Michele Santagata

Authorities in Italy must conduct a thorough investigation into the death threats and brutal beating of journalist Michele Santagata in Cosenza and ensure his physical safety is guaranteed