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Journalist in Bulgaria receives threats after investigating construction project

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, 14 August, 2012 - The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), calls on the Bulgarian authorities to investigate threatening messages received by Spas Spasov, a Varna-based correspondent of the national Bulgarian dailies Capital and Dnevnik.

On 31 July, 2012, Spas Spasov received a parcel by post containing a dedicated copy of an ancient Chinese book, The Art of War. The signed dedication read: "If you cannot make friends or win them, it is better to leave them alone". In post scriptum, the note added: "The world is small and it cannot be governed from Singapore."

The first part of the dedication referred, according to Spasov, to his investigation related to a construction project, while the second related to the newspapers' publishers. The implication, he believes, is clear: Stop investigating.

Spasov told SEEMO that one day before the book arrived by post, his wife received a visitor: a representative from a local company connected to the construction projects investigated by Spasov came to her office and requested her home address. Indirectly and directly, the owners of several companies involved in the construction project threatened both Spasov and his family.

"I call on the Bulgarian authorities to take these threats seriously and investigate their origin. Journalists have to be protected and work in a secure environment," SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. "In a democracy, critical writing has to be accepted and journalists and their families cannot be threatened."

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