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POLITICIANS THE MAIN PERPETRATOR OF ATTACKS ON PRESS IN ROMANIA, SAYS REPORT

Romanian President Traian Băsescu was the "undisputed champion" of insults and attacks against journalists in 2007, says a new report by Romania's Media Monitoring Agency (MMA).

Although attacks and threats against journalists didn't increase from 2006, many of their perpetrators were top level politicians, says MMA. In one incident, Băsescu grabbed the phone of a journalist who was filming him with her phone. Unbeknownst to the President, the phone was still recording, and taped him calling the journalist a "dirty gypsy" in a private conversation with his wife.

"Such gestures are a threat to all journalists given the message they send," says MMA, and were reflected at all levels of government: instances of local authorities offending journalists or illegally suspending their accreditation as punishment for their critical articles were common in 2007.

From political pressures imposed on public radio and television to the lax implementation of access to info laws, "Press Freedom in Romania 2007" covers the most important freedom of expression issues and challenges in Romania last year. It's available here: http://www.mma.ro/

(20 May 2008)

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