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We call for whistleblower Jonathan Taylor to be protected

We call for the arrest warrant against whistleblower, Jonathan Taylor to be dropped

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners, media protection, human rights, transparency and whistleblowing support organisations, alongside international jurists call on Monaco to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant that led to SBM Offshore whistleblower Jonathan Taylor being arrested in Dubrovnik airport.

We call on the Monaco authorities to immediately withdraw all charges against Jonathan Taylor and allow him to return home without further delay. On 31 July 2020, he  was arrested and detained at Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia as he arrived for a short holiday with his wife and three children on charges of “bribery and corruption” originally lodged by the public prosecutor in Monaco. In 2014, Mr Taylor blew the whistle on a $275 million international network of bribes paid by his former employer, oil platform company SBM Offshore. Due to evidence he provided to the UK Serious Fraud Office, investigators in Brazil and the Netherlands as well as the FBI and the Department of Justice in the United States, SBM Offshore was fined over $800 million. A judge in Dubrovnik released Jonathan on bail on 3rd August 2020, but he has to remain in Croatia, with the threat of pending legal action hanging over his head. 

A number of MFRR partners are joined by leading experts from across the globe calling for the arrest warrants to be dropped enabling Mr Taylor to travel freely.

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MFRR renews call for justice in Kuciak murder ahead…

MFRR renews call for justice in Kuciak murder ahead of verdict

Ahead of the announcement of the verdict into the murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová next week, IPI, who have been observing the court hearing, outlines the importance of this case for media freedom in Slovakia and Europe.

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) renewed its call for justice for Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, as a court in Pezinok prepares to issue a verdict in the trial of their suspected killers on Wednesday 5th August.

Kuciak, whose work for the online news site Aktuality.sk uncovered allegations of tax fraud and financial crime implicating prominent business and political leaders in Slovakia, and Kušnírová were killed in their home on 21 February 2018. The double murder sparked the largest protests in Slovakia since the Velvet Revolution, and led to the resignations of the Prime Minister Róbert Fico, Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, Culture Minister Marek Maďarič, and Chief of Police Tibor Gašpar.

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Serbia: financial probe into the work of journalists, media…

Serbia: financial probe into the work of journalists, media and civil society raises concern

Given recent attacks on journalists and media freedom in Serbia, we are concerned that a financial investigation targeting a number of media organisations and associations could be an abuse of legal mechanism in order to exert pressure on the critical voices in Serbia.

ARTICLE 19 and European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), are concerned by a financial investigation launched by the Serbian authorities into journalists, media and civil society organisations. The Serbian Finance Ministry’s Money Laundering Prevention Department has drawn up a list of media, journalists and NGOs whose bank records it wants to check. The information about this list was published in the Serbian media on 27 July.

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Spain: Journalists operate in increasingly suffocating atmosphere

Journalists operate in increasingly suffocating atmosphere in Spain

Polarization and attempts by far-right party to smear fact-checkers and journalists undermine media freedom across the country.

Amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Spain’s far-right party, Vox  introduced a bill to Parliament which aims to regulate fact-checking news outlets in Spain. The text, published on July 17, explicitly forbids the verification of any statement on “social media, blogs, generic websites, print, online outlets and broadcasters“ unless the media organization publicly states its affiliation, if any, to a political party, government or ideology.

The bill also prohibits the fact-checking of “opinions” and includes a provision by which fact-checkers can be held legally liable for labelling them as ‘fake news’. Here MFRR partner, International Press Institute explores what this means for media freedom across the country

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EFJ condemns death and rape threats against Brussels-based journalist,…

EFJ condemns death and rape threats against Brussels-based journalist, Tanja Milevska

As part of the MFRR, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) strongly condemns the online harassment, including threats of physical and sexual violence, against journalist Tanja Milevska, working for the North Macedonia news agency MIA as a Brussels correspondent.

Tanja Milevska received verbal abuse, death and rape threats on social media networks after she tweeted on 11 July asking whether Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament recognise the constitutional change of 2019 making “North Macedonia” the country’s official name.

Following the tweets, trolls and active political figures have been fueling threats for the past four days in an attempt to discredit the journalist in the context of parliamentary election to be held on Wednesday 15 July.

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Greece urged to ensure fair and transparent media support…

Greece urged to ensure fair and transparent media support scheme

MFRR partners condemn the decision to sideline critical media outlets from Covid-19 public ad revenue

The International Press Institute (IPI) has joined a letter from the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) to the Greek government calling for greater transparency and objectivity in the distribution of public advertisement funds to media.

A recent analysis has shown that ad revenue from a public health advertising campaign related to Covid-19 was not distributed fairly, with media perceived as critical of the government receiving disproportionately less revenue or excluded from the scheme altogether.

The letter criticizes the opaque ad distribution carried out by a private company and calls on the Greek government to provide full clarification on the exact criteria to use to select which media received state support and which amounts.

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Slovenia: MFRR concerned over proposed changes to public service…

Slovenia: MFRR partners seriously concerned over proposed changes to public service media

The International Press Institute (IPI), as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) expresses serious concern over proposed amendments to laws governing public service media in Slovenia.

In a letter to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and Culture Minister Vasko Simonit, the MFRR partners said the package of three media laws had the “potential to financially weaken the public broadcaster and allow far greater government control over the management of public service media”.

The letter calls on Slovenia to “apply to brakes” to the proposed changes, at the very least pending extensive further consultation and substantial revisions. “It is clear that major changes to these proposals are needed to safeguard the independence and public-interest reporting of public service media in Slovenia”, the letter concludes.

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Serbia: violent attacks against journalists during two consecutive nights…

Serbia: violent attacks against journalists during two consecutive nights of protests

MFRR partners, IPI and EFJ share statements condemning the threats and attacks against journalists and media workers covering protests in Belgrade, Nis and Novi Sad.

For two consecutive nights, public protests have erupted across Serbia, in response to the Government’s lockdown and COVID-19 policies. At these protests, journalists and media workers have faced a number of threats and attacks from individual protesters and police officers.

The MFRR are extremely concerned by violence against journalists during these protests. In two days, we have been informed of at least 14 attacks against journalists and media workers who were on the field to report in the public interest

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Malta: Renewed call for justice 1,000 days after the…

Malta: Renewed call for justice 1,000 days after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia

12 July 2020 marks 1,000 days since the assassination of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. On this anniversary, the MFRR reasserts our demands for justice for all those involved in her murder and the corruption she exposed.

In recent weeks, yet more disturbing revelations of state corruption and impunity related to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia continue to emerge, underscoring the weaknesses in Malta’s rule of law, and entrenched impunity for both the murder of Caruana Galizia and the high-level abuses of power she investigated.

On the 1,000th day since her assassination we call for justice, transparency and accountability

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Transparent investigation needed into death threats against Bulgarian journalist

Transparent investigation needed into death threats against Bulgarian journalist

IPI, as part of the MFRR, welcomes police protection but calls for chief prosecutor to ensure full investigation

The International Press Institute (IPI) called on the chief prosecutor in Bulgaria to ensure a transparent investigation is conducted into recent death threats against investigative journalist Nikolay Staykov.

Staykov, a well-known Bulgarian journalist who co-founded the NGO Anti-Corruption Fund, told IPI he began received threatening phone calls on June 18 as part of a “coordinated” campaign of harassment he believes was linked to an ongoing investigative documentary he had produced about alleged state corruption.