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CoE Platform Safety of Journalists weekly

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es. Vienna, June 10, 2024

The attacks on our colleagues in Albania figure at the top of the latest weekly report from the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists: Alerts

Member states Albania: Petrol Bomb Thrown at TV Journalists and Camera Operators Covering Protest. On 28 May 2024, at a public protest in Tirana, a masked man in the crowd was seen hurling a petrol bomb, which burst into flames in an area reserved for TV journalists and camera operators.

Latvia: Exiled Journalists Targeted with Pegasus Spyware. On 30 May 2024, the rights group Access Now and the research organisation Citizen Lab published a report, “Exiled, then spied on: Civil society in Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland targeted with Pegasus spyware”, that identified at least seven persons whose devices were targeted by Pegasus, a zero-click spyware produced by the Israeli company NSO Group.

Serbia: New Denigration against N1 Journalists. On 2 June 2024, Ana Brnabić, Speaker of the National Assembly, accused journalists with N1 Television Belgrade of provoking tensions in society, calling for violence, and spreading half-information in a statement made at the headquarters of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) in Belgrade.

Serbia: Publisher Insults and Attacks Journalist Vuk Cvijić over Report. On 29 May 2024, Vuk Cvijić, a reporter for the weekly Radar, was assaulted and shouted at insults and expletives from the publisher Milan Lađević, while passing by a café near Lađević’s editorial office in Belgrade.

Ukraine*: Latest Wave of Cyber-attacks on Ukrainian Media. On 9 May 2024, several Ukrainian TV channels were subjected to cyber-attacks as a result of which their content became temporarily unavailable.

Other countries

Russian Federation**: Meduza Journalists Prosecuted and Fined. In the first four months of 2024, Russian courts received 19 cases involving media outlets that the Prosecutor General’s Office had classified as ‘undesirable’, according to the news outlet Mediazona.
Updates, Member states

Georgia: Bill Requires Internationally Funded Media to Register as ‘Foreign Agents’. On 3 June 2024 , the speaker of Georgia’s Parliament Shalva Papuashvili signed the bill into law after the chamber voted the week before to override a veto lodged by the President. The law was published in Georgia’s Legislative Gazette on the same day. It obliges organisations getting more than 20 percent of funding from abroad to register as ‘agents of foreign influence’. The government agencies have to carry out the necessary preparatory work within 60 days, after which the law will come into force in full. A group of Georgian NGOs announced its intention to challenge the legislation in the constitutional court and is preparing a submission to the European Court of Human Rights.

Serbia: Death Threats on Leaders of Vojvodina Association of Independent Journalists Ana Lalić Hegediš and Dinko Gruhonjić. On 16 April 2024, at 1:45 pm, an unknown person insulted Gruhonjić in the street and threatened him with physical violence. The verbal attack occurred at the corner of Novi Sad’s Fruškogorska and Narodni streets. On 2 June 2024, Gruhonjić discovered that leaflets portraying him once more as a political opponent were being distributed in Novi Sad, in the Liman area that is close to the polling stations. The smearing leaflets follow recent threats against the journalist.

Ukraine***: Freelance Reporter Anastasiya Zhvik Charged with Participating in Undesirable Organisation. On 21 May 2024, the Leninsky District Court in Sevastopol convicted Zhvik of ‘participating in an undesirable organisation’ and fined her 10,000 rubles (€102).
United Kingdom: Will Jordan, Daniel Balint-Kurti and Journalism Development Network Sued for Defamation over Investigative Report. On 22 February 2024, the High Court issued a ruling in favour of Daniel Balint-Kurti, Will Jordan, and their employer the Journalism Development Network. Ashti Hawrami, the claimant, had filed an application in an effort to have the case subject to a summary judgement in his favour. The basis for the application was that the defendants’ qualified privilege defence had “no real prospect” of succeeding at trial. However the court rejected this application enabling the defendants to use the defence of qualified privilege. The next court hearing is scheduled for 17 June 2024.

United Kingdom: Northern Ireland Parliamentarian Files Lawsuits against Journalists. In April 2024, five months after the legal action against O’Doherty was struck out, the legal action against Dudley Edwards brought by Kelly in relation to the article she wrote in the Belfast Telegraph in September 2019 has been dismissed by agreement. Kelly is to pay the defendant’s agreed costs.
Other countries

Belarus: NEXTA Journalists Raman Pratasevich, Stsiapan Putsila and Yan Rudzik Tried on Myriad of Criminal Charges. On 7 May 2024, Pratasevich informed that he and his co-defendants in the Nexta case have been found liable for alleged damage inflicted on the country by the 2020 protests and ordered to pay approximately €6,8 million in compensation. Rudzik and Putsila were convicted in absentia.

Russian Federation**: Russian Authorities Detain Radio Free Europe Journalist Alsu Kurmasheva. On 31 May 2024, the Sovetsky District Court in Kazan again denied Kurmasheva’s request for house arrest, and extended her detention by two months, until 5 August. The hearing was held in camera. Kurmasheva said she has been feeling steadily worse and needs surgery to fix her health problems. She added that she has not been allowed to contact her children since October 2023.

*Alert related to the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine on 24 February 2022. All activities of the Council of Europe concerning Ukraine are being undertaken in compliance with the terms of decision CM/Del/Dec(2022)1426bis/2.3 and subsequent decisions of the Committee of Ministers condemning the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine in violation of international law and upholding the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

**Alert subsequent to the cessation of the membership of the Russian Federation in the Council of Europe on 16 March 2022 pursuant to Committee of Ministers decision CM/Del/Dec(2022)1428ter/2.3. The Partners Organisations to the Platform decided on 31 March 2022 to continue publishing information relating to serious concerns about media freedom and journalists’ rights in the Russian Federation.

***Alert concerning the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. All activities of the Council of Europe concerning Ukraine are being undertaken in compliance with the terms of decision CM/Del/Dec(2022)1426bis/2.3 and subsequent decisions of the Committee of Ministers condemning the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine in violation of international law and upholding the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

State Replies

The authorities from the Netherlands replied to the alert Threats Against NH Nieuws Journalist.

Visit the country page of the Netherlands on the Platform

Council of Europe, Avenue de l’Europe F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel. +33 (0)3 88 41 20 00 www.coe.int

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