Serbia: Adria News and N1 TV seek protection from international organisations

NEWS 28.03.2019 08:11
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Source: N1

Adria News based in Luxembourg and N1 television sent a letter to over 130 international and non-governmental institutions, media associations, as well as to the European Union asking for the protection of N1 television and its journalists from the campaign led by high-ranking Serbia's state, government and the ruling coalition officials.

Dear Sir/Madam

N1 is a cable, regional independent news channel with three productions centres in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. From the start in 2014, N1 Serbia has been subjected to permanent pressure, labelling and a campaign of discouragement by the top government officials and the ruling coalition, including the state president.

The goal of that pressure and campaign has been to compromise and intimidate N1 by labelling it as an anti-Serb, opposition and anti-government TV. The labelling by public officials are regularly accompanied by attacks on N1 in the tabloid press and other media which are under the direct or indirect control of the authorities.

Every wave of attacks on N1 led to numerous threats to the journalists and editors of N1 on various platforms. Only a few have had an epilogue in court.

The authorities in Serbia are declaratively supporting freedom of the media but are doing everything to suppress freedom of the media. A real paradigm of that hypocrisy is the latest statement by the Internal Affairs Minister that the media in Serbia are free. That same minister recently called N1 TV a CIA television.

As you probably know, legitimate civic protests against the current authorities have been organised in Belgrade and many other places in Serbia for months. N1 has been reporting from those protests always taking care to report both the events and messages from the demonstrations and the assessments and views of the government. The pressure and attacks on N1 have increased since N1 has been reporting from the civil protests. Those attacks are culminating now.

N1 recently reported live from the protest which ended with a group of protesters entering the building of the public broadcaster – the Radio-TV Serbia (RTS). N1 cameras and reporters were in the RTS building all through that event unlike those of all five TV stations with national frequencies. N1 behaved in a professional manner and also carried a special news conference by the police minister, a statement by the RTS CEO and part of the special show of the RTS on the event during its several hours of coverage.

Fresh and organised, threatening pressure and attacks on N1 ensued with cabinet ministers and the prime minister taking part in them. N1 was labelled in statements on powerful national TV stations as a participant in the protest. Government officials said that N1 reporting was hypocritical, scandalous, and a call to take part in the break-in into the RTS, reporting with the aim of enlarging the protest, call to violence, planned reporting for the sake of N1’s vital political interests.

That harsh slander and dangerous messages by state officials culminated in the tabloids which are close to the authorities. The portal of one of those tabloids said that N1 reporting was a call to murder the president of Serbia.

Following the groundwork laid for the attacks on n1 by state officials, new threats against N1 and its journalists came from social networks, especially the platforms used for hate speech. This time there were hundreds of threats. N1 journalists have been threatened with physical violence and have been labelled as traitors and foreign mercenaries. There is always uncertainty about what can come after threats like these.

N1 has detailed video and written documentation about all this.

Serbia is a country where a number of the killings of journalists have never been solved. N1 is investing special efforts to secure the physical safety of its journalists.

We are asking you to please, within your means, influence the government and state leadership of Serbia to stop these campaign which has been initiated by them.

We hope that you will do everything to help reduce the pressure on N1 and other independent media in Serbia and secure the minimum of conditions needed for them to work.

We are calling you, to the extent that you can, to help secure the safety and integrity of N1 journalists.

Cordially yours,

Jugoslav Ćosić
News Director, N1 Serbia

Ralf Manthey
Director, Adria News, Luksemburg