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SEEMO condemns accusations made by secretary general of political party against BETA news agency and correspondent Ljiljana Kovacevic

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a letter to Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate:

H.E. Milorad Dodik
Prime Minister of Republika Srpska
Ulica kralja Petra Prvog Karadjordjevica
78000 Banja Luka
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Fax: +387 51 331 311

Vienna, 27 February 2009

Your Excellency,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), condemns the accusations made by Rajko Vasic, Secretary General of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (Savez Nezavisnih Socijaldemokrata - SNSD), against the Belgrade, Serbia-based BETA News Agency and its correspondent Ljiljana Kovacevic.

On 22 February, in an interview with the local magazine, Fokus, Vasic referred to BETA in vulgar language and implied that the news agency was accepting money from foreign sources to publish false and tendentious reports aimed at arousing public discontent.

Such a manner of communication comes as a surprise to SEEMO, since Vasic was himself a journalist in Bosnia and Herzegovina before the war and, from 1998 to 2000, Minister of Information of the Republika Srpska Government.

SEEMO urges Your Excellency, in your capacity as President of the SNSD, to ensure an immediate investigation into this incident and to make public your own view regarding Secretary General Radic's unprofessional behaviour.

We further urge Your Excellency to do everything in your power to provide an environment in which the media are free to report on current events, thereby ensuring the people's right to information.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic
SEEMO Secretary General

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