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Moldova6 March 2009

Privately-owned TV station being harassed in run-up to parliamentary elections

Reporters Without Borders condemns a raid on the privately-owned TV station Albasat on 25 February by three interior ministry agents, who roughed up and arrested two employees, journalist Tatiana Pantilei and accountant Mihail Pantelei.

“This raid was unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We deplore the use of such methods, which recall those used in the Soviet era, and we reiterate our request to the interior ministry to guarantee the freedom and safety of independent news media, especially as elections are to take place in April.”

Although they had no search warrant, the interior ministry agents tried to seize computers, hard disks and documents. They did not succeed because the two employees resisted. The agents hit them and took them to a police station, where they were subjected to a lengthy interrogation.

The interior ministry said it carried out the raid because it had been told by a former Albasat employee that he signed a contract with the TV station that violated Moldova’s labour law. Albasat is also accused of not declaring 400,000 lei (30,000 euros) in profits in 2007, and of using unlicensed computer software.

Created in 1995, Albasat belongs to the Euronova Media group, which believes that the station is being harassed because of the parliamentary elections in April.

Reporters Without Borders appealed to the Moldovan authorities in May 2008 to guarantee the media’s freedom and safety. Moldova was ranked 98th out of 173 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.




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