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Serbia11 September 2008

Pro-Karadzic demonstrators keep invading Belgrade-based news agency

Reporters Without Borders backs the request that the BETA news agency made yesterday to the police for protection against supporters of detained former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who keep forcing their way into its Belgrade headquarters to pressure it to publish their press releases. BETA wants the police to secure the entrance to the building.

“This harassment and intimidation of the BETA news agency’s staff is completely unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The media’s independence and editorial freedom must be guaranteed in Serbia. BETA is a news organisation, not a propaganda tool in the pay of pressure groups.”

A group of pro-Karadzic demonstrators first stormed into BETA’s offices on 30 August. Since then, members of the nationalist movements staging almost daily protests against Karadzic’s arrest in Belgrade have been stopping outside BETA’s headquarters “to say hello to the agency” and to get it to publish their press releases.

The demonstrators forced their way into BETA’s offices again on 2 September to press their demands for the publication of their releases, this time taking photos of the journalists and other employees inside.

Reporters Without Borders said : “We urge the Serb authorities to take the necessary measures to deny these individuals access to the offices of the BETA news agency. We also call on the authorities to ensure that the agency’s premises are protected.”

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