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Protesters In Belgrade Call For End To Threats, Violence Against Journalists

Protesters rally against threats to journalists in Serbia in front of government headquarters in Belgrade on October 16.
Protesters rally against threats to journalists in Serbia in front of government headquarters in Belgrade on October 16.

BELGRADE -- Dozens of journalists and media-freedom activists assembled outside the Serbian government headquarters on October 16 to demand that intimidation, threats, and violence end toward members of their profession.

Organized by the local Group for Media Freedom, demonstrators called on the government and President Aleksandar Vucic to prevent and stop violence against journalists.

They were protesting the latest incident that took place two days ago at the privately-owned N1TV channel.

Two masked men threw hundreds of threatening leaflets across the fence into the backyard of the building that houses N1TV Belgrade.

In response, the demonstrators carried banners on October 16 that read, "Journalists against phantoms."

A similar incident took place in February when the station received a letter with a death threat against its staff and family members, including a threat to blow up the TV station's office.

It was signed by the group Belgrade Veterans of the 1999 War.

The association's president subsequently denied involvement, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The station’s executive producer, Igor Bozic, later told Balkan Insight that the threatening letter was delivered the same day that Vucic described the media outlet as anti-government.

"Media freedom is not only an issue for the journalists, but it’s also an issue for all people.... That's why now is the time for all us to support professional journalists and defend N1," said Norbert Sinkovic, president of the managing board of the Independent Society of Vojvodina Journalists from the northern city of Novi Sad.

In December 2018, the house of investigative journalist Milan Jovanovic was set ablaze in a suspected arson attack.

He is a reporter for the independent news website Zig Info, according to CPJ.

His house in a Belgrade suburb caught on fire when a gasoline bomb was thrown through his garage window early on December 12.

CPJ wrote that "unidentified persons fired shots at his front door to prevent the family from leaving the house," citing local and regional media.

The independent Association of Serbian Journalists says that 89 incidents of threats or assaults on journalists have been recorded this year.

N1TV is part of Adria News, a regional network of privately-owned news broadcasters in Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia -Herzegovina. The TV station regularly covers anti-government protests in Serbia and is an affiliate of CNN.

With reporting by N1TV and Balkan Insight

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