20 Jan 2020 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 28 Nov 2019 n° 140/2019 Serbia

Journalist Miodrag Sovilj Targeted by Smear Campaign after Interviewing President Vučić

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Serbian journalist Miodrag Sovilj has been the target of a storm of criticism by media and officials close to the government. The reason for this backlash was the hospitalisation of Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić for health reasons hours after he publicly confronted him with allegations of government corruption.

President Vučić was opening a children’s park on 15 November in Belgrade when N1 reporter questioned him over the alleged role of Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic’s father in the suspect purchase of state-produced arms. An exchange of several minutes took place filmed by a camera. The journalist repeatedly asked the President whether he knows the document on his mobile phone - supposed to be the proof demonstrating the conflict of interest - while President Vučić asks him several times to read out the whole document, affirming he is not aware of the document’s existence and can’t read it. In the end, Vučić gave an evasive response and asked the anti-corruption agency to investigate.

Following this exchange, Miodrag Sovilj faced intimidation, threats and smear campaign. He was accused by officials and media of “provoking the President”, of being rude, offensive and disrespectful, having a “shameful behaviour” that led to the deterioration of Vučić’s health - an insinuation that was denied by the President himself afterwards. Photos of the journalist were taken from his student MySpace account and published to portray him as an alcoholic and drug addict.
State replies
21 Jan 2020
Reply from the Serbian authorities (Ministry of Interior)
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