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Bulgaria24 September 2008

Vicious assault on editor of Frog News

Reporters Without Borders today voiced shock after a vicious assault yesterday on the editor of website Frog News who was set on by four men who beat him with iron bars and hammers.

Ognyan Stefanov, of Frognews.bg (http://www.frognews.bg) was attacked as he left a restaurant in Sofia. Restaurant staff tried to intervene but were forced back by his assailants who pretended to be police officers. One of them shouted, “Police, we will shoot”.

Stefanov was taken to the Military Medical Academy with two broken legs, a broken arm and cuts to the back. He is now out of intensive care but remains in an artificially induced coma. Doctors said they do not believe his life is in danger since his heart and brain activity is normal.

The attackers are suspected of belonging to a criminal gang known as “The Hammers” who “specialise” in breaking the arms and legs of their victims.

“We are particularly shocked by the violence of the assault on Ognyan Stefanov and we send our best wishes to his family and friends who are going through a very difficult time,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“It is unacceptable that a journalist should be treated like this, particularly within a European Union country. In addition to the required investigation to find the perpetrators and the instigators of this assault, the Bulgarian authorities must swiftly act to ensure a safer environment for press freedom, particularly for media that investigate corruption and organised crime which the European authorities have made a point of recently”, the organisation concluded.

Reporters Without Borders on 15 September 2008, condemned the arrest of Yorgo Petsas, journalist and manager of Frognews, by national security agents (DANS). They suspect him of being behind the creation of the website Opasnite (Dangerous News - http://opasnite.net63.net) that posts news “classified as secret” on corruption cases. Opasnite.net has been inaccessible since 5 September.




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