Serbia16 July 2002
Two journalists questioned about articles incriminating the government
Reporters sans frontières said today it was concerned that two Serbian journalists - Radio Free Europe reporter Natasa Odalovic and Vladimir Radomirovic, editor of the Belgrade weekly Reporter - had been summoned recently by police in connection with articles they had written about crime and spying operations.
"May we remind you that journalists are not assistants to the judiciary," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in letters to Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and President Vojislav Kostunica of Serbia-Montenegro.
"The police do not have the right to ask about sources of journalists’ information, whatever its nature, especially when it involves criticism of the government. We ask you to see that journalists can freely exercise their right to inform the public. We also ask you to ensure the safety of the two journalists in question."
Odalovic, who also works for the Belgrade daily Danas, was questioned by police on 11 July about an article she wrote in the paper on 5 July referring to accusations of collusion between the Djindjic government and the mafia made by President Kostunica’s communications adviser, Aleksandar Tijanic. She wrote this week to Kostunica expressing fears for her safety.
Radomirovic was questioned by police on 12 July about a recent article that said listening devices had been planted in government offices. He refused to reveal his sources. He was also threatened with arrest if he did not obey the police summons to present himself for questioning.