Bosnia’s Prosecutor's Office summoned on Monday an investigative journalist for questioning after he broke a story that revealed an alleged Croatian plot aimed to portray Bosnia as a terrorist hub.
But after leaving the Prosecutor’s Office, Avdo Avdic told reporters not one question he was asked was related to that story and that prosecutors asked him about cafes and restaurants he visits and what he knows about Russia’s influence in Bosnia.
“He (Prosecutor Oleg Cavka) asked me about my contacts, sources and movements in some cafes in Sarajevo,” Avdic said.
“And most importantly, in the end, prosecutor Cavka asked me where I got my information about Russian influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said, adding that the prosecutor did not ask anything regarding the affair allegedly involving Croatia’s secret service.
Avdic’s investigative outlet Zurnal published interviews with Muslims who said the Croatian intelligence agency, SOA, tried to recruit them to create fake social media accounts and use them to embrace ISIS and transport firearms to masjids in central Bosnia.
The allegations were in a way confirmed by Bosnia’s Security Minister, Dragan Mektic, who said that the aim of the operation was most likely to justify previous statements made by the Croatian president who claimed there were 10,000 people in Bosnia with very radical islamist views and intentions.
The weapons, once they were supposed to be stored in masjids, were to be discovered by authorities after a tip-off and to prove Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s claims as true, Mektic speculated.
The Zurnal story implicated a Croatian consul in Bosnia and a well-known journalist. All of them dismissed the allegations.
Bosnia’s journalist association ‘BH novinari’ requested the Prosecutor’s Office to inform the association about the circumstances of the summon.
The association reminded that journalists and editors have the right to protect their sources according to Bosnia’s laws, journalism ethics standards, as well as “international documents of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the European Federation of Journalists.”
“Nobody, not even the Prosecutor’s Office, has the right to coerce journalists into revealing information about their sources!” the associations said.
The association also asked whether the Prosecutor’s Office requested that the owner of Zurnal relieves Avdic of his obligation to “protect a business secret” and share information with the prosecutor, particularly about his sources.
“We believe that, with this act, Bosnia’s Prosecutor's Office is mounting illicit pressure on journalist Avdo Avdic and is violating his right to freedom of expression, which also concerns freedom of journalistic investigation and gathering information, as well as the protection of sources of information,” the association said.
Their statement added that Zurnal’s Azra Omerovic was also recently summoned by the Prosecutor’s Office and asked to reveal her sources regarding another Zurnal investigation about the alleged sale of diplomas.
The associations added they expect a swift response.