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11.09.2017

Kosovo - Investigative media outlet reports politician for inciting hatred

By Emil Weber

Journalists in Kosovo have warned of attempts to silence the media and incitement of hatred following claims from a member of the Parliament that allege links between the local investigative news portal Insajderi.com and the activities of Serbian intelligence officers.

Kosovo flag Kosovar journalist beaten because of article he wrote

Mr. Milaim Zeka, an MP from the PAN majority coalition representing the parties that came out of the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) - the so called “war wing”, wrote on Facebook that the Serbian Security Intelligence Agency (BIA) acts through the news portal in Kosovo. He called the executive director of Insajderi.com, Mr. Parim Olluri, and its editor in chief, Mr. Vehbi Kajtazi, “Serbian agents”.

"These two Serbian secret service agents, according to international sources, have received instructions from Belgrade to denigrate and humiliate national figures, beginning with Adem Jashari”, Mr. Zeka said on Friday. “They are the biggest abusers and violators of the free speech”. Mr Zeka is himself a former journalist for the national public broadcaster.

Adem Jashari is a mythical figure among Albanians (the majority ethnic group), in Kosovo. He died in a battle with the Serbian Government forces during the armed conflict in 1998. Jashari was deemed to be the founder of the formerly insurgent KLA. The political parties coming out of the KLA have been key political actors in Kosovo, especially since independence in 2008, and are often accused of being responsible for widespread corruption.

Beaten up in the streets

Mr. Parim Olluri, Insajderi’s director and a prominent investigative reporter, wrote a commentary on August 15 titled “If Adem Jashari was alive and a corrupt millionaire”. He had earlier written about a case of corruption involving a Jashari family survivor. On the evening of August 16, Mr. Olluri and his fiancée were beaten up in the streets of the capital Prishtina. The police are yet to identify the assailants and their motive.

Mr. Olluri says PAN’s MP knew he was attacked after he wrote about former KLA leaders. “He is trying to prepare the ground for new attacks and for the public to view them as attacks against BIA agents and not against journalists”, he says. “This is a pressure against potential investigative stories involving him, his party and the new government”.

Olluri’s colleague, Mr.Vehbi Kajtazi, broke a major story in August 2016 at Insajderi.com involving wiretap recordings of the leaders of the main party coming out of KLA, Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK). It became known as the “Pronto case” since the PDK leaders were using Italian mafia style wording in their recorded dealings. (‘Pronto’ is how Italians answer the phone).

"This aims to silence reporters"

The Basic Court of Prishtina denied a privacy injunction requested by the former parliamentary group leader of PDK to stop publishing wiretapped conversations and to remove the recordings from the portal. However, his civilian lawsuit against Insajderi.com is on-going. ECPMF has provided financial and legal support to Insajderi.

Mr. Shkëlqim Hysenaj, president of the Association of Kosovo Journalists, says the fresh comments from Mr. Milaim Zeka are aimed at harming the credibility of the two journalists. “His acts, in addition to being an intrusion on the work of journalists, aim to silence reporters”.

Mr. Olluri, the Insajderi director, says the news portal will sue the MP for the second time in a few months for similar claims linking Insajderi to BIA.

The BIA has an infamous connotation in Kosovo from the period of ethnic conflict during the 1990s. Some members of Albanian community were allegedly murdered by the KLA for being BIA/Serbian collaborators. For this reason, Insajderi.com has reported the MP’s Facebook posting to the police. “It contains elements of hatred incitement”, says Mr. Olluri. 

Read more:

Kosovo: Investigative journalist threatened and insulted by Prime Minister

Court refuses request of Kosovo MP to stop publication of wiretapped conversations





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