30 Apr 2019 Lvl. 2
Alert created on: 25 Sep 2018 n° 104/2018 Austria
Austria Interior Ministry Plans to Restrict Information Access for 'Critical Media'
A top spokesman for Austria's Interior Ministry has urged police departments across Austria to "restrict communication" with "critical media". In an email leaked to the Austrian press, the spokesman said police should “restrict communication with these media to only the most necessary (legally required) degree”. The spokesman described the media outlets, including the dailies Der Standard and Kurier as well as the weekly Falter, of “very one-sided and negative reporting about the [Ministry of Interior] and the police”. The email also urged police departments not to grant critical media any “privileges”, such as police ride-alongs. The spokesman's email accused the media outlets of "ignoring facts", which he claimed recent articles had proven. In a later statement, the Interior Ministry said the email contained only non-binding "suggestions".
30 Apr 2019
On 30 April 2019, the Ministry of the Interior dissolved the Press Service at the Federal Criminal Office and integrated it into its chart, effective 1 May 2019. A new Ministerial Decree on communication and a related Ministerial Circular also entered into force on that day.
25 Sep 2018
On 25 September 2018, Alexander van der Bellen, Federal President, and Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor, declared that freedom of expression, media and the press are pillars of liberal democracy and of the rule of law in Austria; that the media must have the same free access to information, without discrimination or boycott on the part of the public institutions’ public relations officers.
16 Nov 2018
Reply from the Austrian authorities
27 Sep 2018
OSCE Representative calls on Austrian Ministry of Interior to treat all media equally and to refrain from attacking them.