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INDEPENDENT BROADCASTER THREATENED AND BESIEGED

A popular independent media outlet has come under attack in Serbia following Kosovo's declaration of independence, report the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Threats have been waged against B92, the Belgrade-based independent radio and television station and ANEM member, since Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence on 17 February.

A "Kosovo is Serbia" protest of more than 150,000 people on 21 February in Belgrade turned violent, with some protesters marching to the B92 building, surrounding it and trapping the journalists inside for several hours. According to CPJ, the protesters accused the station of pro-Western bias and called the staff "traitors of Serbia."

The siege on B92 followed several days of anonymous threats emailed to the station and posted on Internet forums. The threats accused B92 of being the reason Serbia was "losing" Kosovo. Many openly called for the burning of B92's building.

Meanwhile, a graphic video on YouTube shows a sniper pretending to target and kill B92's anchors, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

B92 says it will continue broadcasting. In the meantime, it has sent appeals to Belgrade prosecutors and the Ministry of the Interior to investigate the threats.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Miklos Haraszti condemned the threats and violence and emphasised that "during times of tension or unauthorised demonstrations, journalists must be allowed to carry out their duty of reporting."

The predominantly ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo has been under temporary UN administration since June 1999. UN-backed talks for a final resolution of Kosovo's status started in early 2006, but Serbia and Kosovo were unable to reach an agreement.

Visit these links:
- ANEM: http://www.anem.org.yu/en/index.jsp
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/32hnga
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25885
- B92: http://tinyurl.com/3cwcgs
- OSCE: http://www.osce.org/item/29841.html
(26 February 2008)

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