27 Mar 2020 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 19 Mar 2020 n° 189/2020 Slovenia

Slovenian Journalist Blaž Zgaga Targeted by a Defamation and Hate Campaign Led by the New Government

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner RSF IPI
Partner RSF IPI
Slovenian investigative journalist Blaž Zgaga has been the target of a smear and hate campaign since 15 March 2020. The journalist has received several death threats from far-right groups. The harassment originates from a retweet by the government of a claim that the journalist is a "psychiatric patient who escaped quarantine" via the @KrizniStabRS account . The retweet also mentioned that three other "psychiatric patients", including intellectual and poet Slavoj Zizek, were wanted as well.

The retweet was deleted from the @KrizniStabRS account a few hours later. However, Nova24TV, a Hungarian government-funded media outlet whose editor-in-chief, Aleš Hojs, was recently appointed Slovenia's Interior Minister, relayed its content. Nova24TV accused Blaž Zgaga, among others things, of questioning the measures taken by the government to respond to the health emergency and to inform the population about news related to COVID-19. These measures include the creation of a "crisis cell of the Republic of Slovenia" and the Twitter account @KrizniStabRS, where the retweet in question was posted. Previously, Blaž Zgaga had approached the authorities to ask for more information about the management of this "crisis cell".

An investigative journalist, Zgaga initiated many investigations which revealed corruption cases in the Balkans in the 2000s. His investigation into the Slovenian defence ministry's purchase of arms from a Finnish company led to the resignation of many public figures in Slovenia, including former prime minister and current head of government Janez Janša. Janša was convicted of corruption in 2014 and sentenced to two years in prison.
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