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04 Aug 2020 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 04 Aug 2020 n° 93/2020 Ukraine

Judges Illegally Tried to Gain Access to a Ukrainian Journalist Telephone

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner RSF
No state reply yet
Partner RSF
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) published materials proving that judges of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv tried to gain illegal access to the telephone of the Slidstvo.info journalist Yevhenia Motorevska. The head of the Court Pavlo Vovk and his deputy Yevheniy Ablov tried to obtain the journalist's contacts after she released a story about Ablov's birthday celebration at the VaBene restaurant in Kyiv on 13 April 2019. As the records show, Ablov and Vovk tried to get information about the people Motorevska was talking to on 13 April and the days before, using illegal methods and without the relevant court order.

On 17 July 2020, the NABU announced that several members of the Kyiv District Administrative Court were under suspicion for multiple crimes.
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04 Aug 2020 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 04 Aug 2020 n° 92/2020 Germany

Journalists Insulted and Harassed by Demonstrators in Berlin

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
Several journalists and press photographers were insulted and harassed by demonstrators participating in the demonstration against the Covid-19 pandemic protection measures on Saturday, 1 August 2020, in Berlin. A team from public television station ZDF had to interrupt its reporting under pressure from the demonstrators, as shown in the footage shot by journalist Dunja Hayali. On 3 August, the German Federation of Journalists (DJV) called on the authorities to take measures to ensure the protection of journalists covering demonstrations. The German journalists' union (dju in ver.di) denounced the inaction of the local police in Berlin.
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04 Aug 2020 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 10 Jun 2020 n° 67/2020 Bosnia and Herzegovina

TV Journalist Sinan Gluhić Attacked by Politician

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On 5 June 2020, RTV Zenica journalist Sinan Gluhić was hit in the neck and face on his way to work by a politician of the Party of Democratic Activity (A-SDA), Sulejman Spahić, who also threatened the journalist to death. The attack was preceded by days of verbal threats and insults to Gluhic via telephone and social networks, especially Facebook. These incidents are believed to be connected to Gluhić’s posts on social media, on 31 May, about the delayed construction work on a local road.

The incident was reported to police and recorded, as well as threats Gluhic received in the previous period. A report has been submitted to the local prosecutor’s office in Zenica. Spahić has been charged with endangering public safety.

The Bosnian journalists’ association and the High Representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) condemned the attacks and called for a swift investigation.
Follow-ups
10 Jun 2020
OSCE Media Freedom Representative condemns physical attack and threats against journalist in Zenica
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03 Aug 2020 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 03 Aug 2020 n° 92/2020 Romania

Judicial Intimidation Targeting the Romanian Union of Journalists and Daily Newspaper "Libertatea"

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
Following the denunciation of irregularities in the management of the Romanian public television station TVR by the Romanian journalists' union FAIR-Mediasind, TVR's management has instructed the law firm Zamfirescu Racoti & Partners to take legal action for defamation against the union and against the journalists of the daily newspaper "Libertatea". The union said TVR had allocated a public budget of 50,742 euros to the law firm to bring these legal actions. FAIR-Mediasind issued a statement on 28 July accusing the director of the TV station, Doina Gradea, of attempting to intimidate and harass the journalists' union.
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03 Aug 2020 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 03 Aug 2020 n° 91/2020 Serbia

Serbia: Finance Ministry Demands Access to Bank Records of Journalists and NGOs

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner Article 19 ECPMF EFJ/IFJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner Article 19 ECPMF EFJ/IFJ RSF
The Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering based out of the Ministry of Finance has compiled a list of media workers, NGOs and citizens' associations, featuring 20 individuals and 37 organisations. From this list, the directorate is demanding access to their bank records since the beginning of 2019 to determine whether the NGOs and individuals are connected to money laundering or operations to finance terrorism.

This list includes organisations including the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS), Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS), CINS, BIRN, KRIK, CRTA, the Association of Local and Independent Media, and the Novi Sad School of Journalism.

Tanja Fajon, an MEP and the co-chairman of the European Parliament (EP) Delegation for cooperation with Serbia tweeted out that: "Most of the CSOs, media and individuals investigated for money laundering by the Serbian Government have been among the primary advocates for pro-EU reforms and supporters of #EU values in #Serbia. Any unjustified investigation into their work should be regarded as pressure."
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03 Aug 2020 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 12 Jun 2020 n° 68/2020 Serbia

Journalist Bojana Pavlović Harassed in Front of the Police who Confiscated her Phone

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner ECPMF Article 19 EFJ/IFJ
Partner ECPMF Article 19 EFJ/IFJ
On 10 June 2020, Bojana Pavlović took photos of Danilo Vucic, son of Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia, sitting in a café with Aleksandar Vidojevic, who is currently on trial for participating in the demolition of a nightclub. As reported by the KRIK investigative journalism centre, Vidojevic has been allegedly identified by the police as a member of the Kavaci organised crime group. As Pavlović was leaving, three men stopped her stating they were police officer. She produced a journalist ID card, explaining that she was on duty, but was told to wait for the police patrol as she was likely to be detained.

The men requested her to delete the footage, which she did. She had already sent the photos to KRIK. Two men approached them, one of whom forcefully took her mobile phone out of her hands. The police didn’t react. Pavlović said that at one point she was surrounded by five men and she’d asked them to move away as she felt endangered and unsafe. Vidojevic, accompanied by another person, approached the group and the police left, leaving her alone with the four men. Vidojevic instructed the man to return the mobile phone, he did so and they left.
State replies
03 Aug 2020
New Reply of the Serbian authorities (Ministry of the Interior)
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31 Jul 2020 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 31 Jul 2020 n° 90/2020 Hungary

Dismissal of Index News Website Editor further Constricts Media Independence

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner AEJ Article 19 ECPMF EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner AEJ Article 19 ECPMF EFJ/IFJ
On 22 July 2020, Szabolcs Dull the editor-in-chief of Index news website, Hungary’s leading source of independent news and political comment, was dismissed from his post, one month after publicly warning that its status as a free media outlet was “in danger” from political growing interference. On 24 July, more than 70 other journalists and staff of Index resigned together in protest.

In a joint statement they said the conditions for Index’s independent operations were no longer in place. They called the firing of their editor “clear interference” and an overt attempt to apply pressure. Earlier this year a pro-government businessman acquired significant control over Index’s funding. Laszlo Bodalai, the president of the board of the website’s owners, denied that Index’s political independence was at risk and referred to a decline in advertising revenues as a reason for the dismissal.

European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova reacted to the removal of Szabolcs Dull by declaring that she had “big concerns” and expressing her solidarity with the staff of Index who she said had worked under “very difficult conditions”.

In late 2018 a Media Pluralism Monitor report published by the European Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom assessed the risk related to the lack of political independence of media in Hungary, in terms of the state regulation of resources and support to the media sector, as having an acute high-risk score of 97%. The risk to editorial autonomy of the country's media was also assessed with a high risk score of 88%.
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31 Jul 2020 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 23 Jul 2020 n° 85/2020 Greece

Critical Greek Media Excluded or Side-Lined from State Funding Package during Covid-19

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner IPI
Partner IPI
Greek media critical of the government were excluded or side-lined from a €20 million financial support scheme during the Covid-19 pandemic. An analysis showed that many outlets perceived as “opposition” media in Greece received disproportionately lower levels of advertising revenue from the public health awareness campaign compared to more government-friendly media, despite the fact that many had higher circulation and readership. As the clearest example, Documento, a weekly investigative newspaper, was excluded entirely from state funding. Its editor and publisher alleged this was in clear retaliation for its critical coverage and recent investigations into the leadership of the ruling New Democracy party. When later questioned about why Documento had been excluded, government spokesman Stelios Petsas justified the decision by saying that media outlets were excluded for failing to meet several criteria, including not spreading “fake news” about the pandemic. Documento strongly deny this. The weekly newspaper, which specialises in investigative reporting and is known for being critical of the New Democracy government and the Prime Minister, was the only major media outlet excluded from the emergency funding scheme. The campaign was to include print publications, television channels, radio stations, websites, and social network platforms. To distribute the state funding, the government hired the private multinational advertising company, Initiative Media. When the funding was announced, Documento was excluded entirely. Meanwhile, an 18-page list of 1,232 outlets that did receive financial aid, instead included more than 200 digital entities not listed in the country’s Online Media Register, including inactive or non-existent websites or obscure blogs with little or no readers. This full list was only released by the government after sustained pressure from media and civil society. It showed that many news media friendly towards the government received disproportionately large amounts of money, leading to accusations that the government was distorting the media landscape while undermining freedom of the press and pluralism.
State replies
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30 Jul 2020 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 22 Apr 2020 n° 44/2020 Albania

Blogging Site ‘Medium.com’ Blocked in Albania

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner ECPMF
Partner ECPMF
The Albanian Electronic Communications Authority (AKEP) has ordered the internet service providers to block the domain of the community blogging website Medium.com. The order came following a request by the Albanian Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) to block the entire domain because it was broadcasting films illegally. AMA requested the blocking on 16 April 2020. The Albanian Media Council reacted against the blocking of the domain stating that if Facebook or Whatsapp contain links to pirated movies, the government should not shut down the entire websites. “If the AMA has requested the closure of medium.com, the action of the AMA would be illegal. If AKEP has taken this decision itself, it is still an illegal act”.
State replies
30 Jul 2020
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29 Jul 2020 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 27 Jul 2020 n° 89/2020 Turkey

Turkey Proposes Social Media Law, Threatening Press Freedom

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner CPJ Article 19 AEJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ Article 19 AEJ RSF
On 21 July 2020, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) proposed the draft law to strengthen state control of social media platforms, as well as data about those who use them in Turkey to the Turkish parliament.

The draft said it would require social media companies with more than one million users in Turkey to store those users’ data in the country, and open offices staffed with local representatives. The text has yet to be reviewed in parliament, and the timeline for a vote on the bill is unclear.

According to the draft, the companies will be required to remove content that violates “personal rights” and the “privacy of personal life” from their sites within 48 hours of receiving a court order. Search engines could also be required to remove links to such content. Companies that fail to comply may face court-ordered penalties, including fines of up to 30 million Turkish lira (3.7 million euros), or traffic to their platforms slowed or blocked by the Turkish internet providers.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in early July that social media platforms “need to be brought into order”. “Such platforms don’t suit this country and our people. That’s why we want [them] completely shut or controlled after bringing the issue to our parliament,” he said.

Turkey already exploits legal processes to remove journalism from social media. Recent transparency reports from Twitter and Reddit show that Turkish officials issued the companies with more requests to remove content than any other country.
Updates
New 29 Jul 2020
On 29 July 2020, the Turkish Parliament passed the law that will give authorities more powers to control social media content. The legislation requires social media companies to have their representatives in Turkey and to remove, within 24 hours, content found unacceptable. Failure to do so will be punished with large fines, advertising bans or bandwidth restrictions. The law also requires social media users' data to be stored in Turkey.
Follow-ups
28 Jul 2020
New CoE Commissioner for Human Rights considers that "the amendments proposed to the Internet legislation in Turkey will make a legal framework that is already incompatible with CoE standards much worse"
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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

23 June 2015