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Albania13 January 2009

Police prevent staff of Tirana-based daily from entering their offices

Reporters Without Borders condemns the action of the police in blocking access to the offices of the privately-owned daily Tema in Tirana on 9 January, despite a court order authorising the newspaper to continue occupying the premises.

“We urge interior minister Bujar Nishani to comply with judicial decisions and to allow Tema’s journalists into their offices,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We also urge the government to stop using the state apparatus to harass the press. The right of reply and debate continue to be the simplest and most effective methods for maintaining the necessary dialogue between politicians and the media.”

The police surrounded the entrance to Tema’s offices on 9 January, preventing journalists and other employees from entering. The interior ministry said it was implementing a December 2007 economy ministry decision unilaterally terminating Tema’s contract for the rent of the offices it has occupied in a state-owned building for the past 20 years.

In a statement posted on 9 January on the Tema website, editor Memo Baze announced that the cancellation of the rental contract had been rescinded by a 6 January court order, which thereby allowed Tema to continue occupying the premises.

Tema has in recent week published articles about corruption cases in which members of the government are allegedly implicated.

Albania was ranked 79th out of 173 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.




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