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The prosecution bans publications in the media, Reporters Without Borders: Journalists cannot be threatened with prison

The prosecution bans publications in the media, Reporters Without Borders:

Reporters Without Borders' announcement on the order of the Prosecutor's Office of Tirana for the media:

Albanian prosecutors have banned the media from covering matters of public interest, including threats to state institutions and a case of organized crime. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the authorities to avoid disproportionate measures and condemns the fact that journalists have been threatened with imprisonment for violating these prohibitions.

State security and the confidentiality of judicial investigations are legitimate reasons for limiting press freedom, but the authorities must take proportionate measures not to arbitrarily curb this fundamental right. No journalist should be threatened with prison sentences if they cover topics of public interest such as threats to state institutions and organized crime in accordance with media ethics. We call on the prosecutors and courts of Albania to take into account the right to information.

Pavol Szalai

Head of the RSF office for the European Union and the Balkans

On September 19, Tirana's prosecutor's office issued an order barring Albanian media from publishing any information stemming from the leak of "sensitive" government documents following a cyber attack possibly carried out by Iranian hackers. They include information about a suspected plan to assassinate Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti and suspicions of a possible terrorist attack on the Albanian embassy in Greece.

The Prosecutor's Office of Tirana told RSF that the ban aims to protect personal data, classified state security information and the confidentiality of judicial investigations and "does not aim to hinder media activity". However, the prosecutor's office did not say how long the ban will remain in effect. Moreover, the ban does not distinguish between documents of different types, while journalists who violate it will be exposed to criminal prosecution.

Another recent publication ban was issued by the special anti-corruption prosecution on June 14 against Elton Qyno, an Ora Nea journalist investigating organized crime in Albania, after he reported in several articles that his sources and the official investigation pointed out inclusion. of high officials and politicians in the affairs of suspected gangster Nurdin Dumani.

When contacted by RSF about the detention, the special prosecutor said: "The purpose of this order is not to imprison the journalist, but to preserve investigative secrecy as well as to prevent serious events that could be caused by the publication of these statements [given by associates of justice in criminal proceedings] and reprisals by rival groups.” In response to this order prohibiting him from covering the Dumani case until the completion of the criminal investigation, Qyno has denounced the order in the special court of Albania. Penalties for journalists who violate the ban are extremely high. According to the penal code of Albania, they can be sentenced up to six years in prison.

Albania is ranked 103 out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index, the lowest ranking in the Western Balkans.


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