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22.03.2016

Kosovo: Investigative journalist threatened and insulted by Prime Minister

by Michelle Trimborn

A journalist has been directly called and threatened by Kosovan Prime Minister Isa Mustafa after publishing an article on Mustafa's brother who left the country to seek asylum in the EU. The journalist takes the threat seriously.

Kajtazi screenshot_900 Photo of journalist Vehbi Kajtazi on Radio Europa website. The headline reads: "Yes, the Prime Minister threatened me"

On the morning of 20 March 2016, Vehbi Kajtazi, journalist at the investigative online newspaper “Insajderi.com” published an article revealing that the Prime Minister’s brother left Kosovo to seek asylum in the EU. According to the article, he emigrated due to health problems and tried to get a residence permit in both Germany and France.

Later that day, Kajtazi received a personal call via Viber (smart phone application) from the Prime Minister, who asked why the article was published. When replying that it was aimed to point out the bad situation of the health sector, Mustafa commented that his brother had to leave the country as he is suffering from throat cancer. According to Kajtazi, who was interviewed by ECPMF, Kosovo Prime Minister Mustafa insulted and threatened him by saying “My brother is not in my hand, but in the hand of the illness. He has cancer in his throat, you dog, son of the dog (in Albanian: “more qen bir qeni”).

In his article, the journalist stresses that the Kosovan government has been strongly crititcised by foreign authorities for a mismanagement of its public health care system. Often people suffering severe illnesses are advised to seek help abroad as sufficient treatment is not guaranteed.

Vehbi Kajtazi and Vullnet Krasniqi from Insajderi.com, an investigative online newspaper which was just recently founded in February 2016 by the renowned investigative journalists, told ECPMF that they are alarmed by the threat. “Because of his language and the courage to call our journalist, we are concerned and take the threat seriously. For this reason, we have notified the police who have launched an investigation.”

The Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, contacted by ECPMF, did not comment on the case. However, Radio Free Europe in Prishtina has quoted the Prime Minister as saying he did not threaten Kajtazi.

Kajtazi has published a print screen of a call received via Viber and claims that the spokesperson of the Kosovo Government has confirmed that the number appearing on Viber is used by Prime Minister Mustafa. 

Expectations that the case will be properly investigated are low. Comments editor Krasniqi:

Knowing the political influence and power over the Judiciary, I doubt that the Prime Minister will appear before court with the accusation of a threat.

According to him, there is no press freedom in Kosovo. “The fact that a Prime Minister calls our journalist is clear evidence that media are threatened by the government.”

The Association of Professional Journalists of Kosovo protested today to take a stand against the intimidation of journalists by the governmental forces.


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The ECPMF Resource Centre is following the situation of press freedom in Kosovo closely. Find related texts and reports here





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