15 Dec 2015 Lvl. 2
Resolved
Alert created on: 12 Oct 2015 Belgium

The Press Service of Belgian Prime Minister Threatens a Journalist

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On 6 October 2015, while covering the visit of Turkish President Erdoğan to Belgium, a journalist from the Belgian public television RTBF, Tristan Godaert, was repeatedly threatened by the press officer and by the spokesperson of Charles Michel, the Belgian Prime Minister, at the Val Duchesse castle. The event was recorded by the RTBF. Members of Mr. Michel’s Cabinet intended to oppose the broadcasting of footage of a conversation between some of Mr. Michel’s Cabinet members and the press officer from the Turkish Embassy in Brussels, following the unplanned questioning of President Erdoğan by a RTBF journalist on the fate of Mohammed Ismael Rasool, a journalist imprisoned in Turkey. Tristan Godaert was threatened with reprisals on two occasions, first by the press officer of Mr. Michel and then by his spokesperson.
Resolved
: On 12 October 2015, the Prime Minister of Belgium publicly criticised his spokesperson’s actions in this case, calling his words as “unacceptable both in form and in substance”. The Prime Minister also assured that his Cabinet did not interfere with the hierarchy of the RTBF in order to exert pressure on the public broadcaster. On 15 December 2015, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case as ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
Updates
14 Dec 2015
On 12 October 2015, the Prime Minister of Belgium publicly criticised his spokesperson’s actions in this case, calling his words as “unacceptable both in form and in substance”. The Prime Minister also assured that his Cabinet did not interfere with the hierarchy of the RTBF in order to exert pressure on the public broadcaster.
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