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Entrepreneur harasses newspaper over critical stories, threatens legal action

(ANEM/IFEX) - The following is a 16 November 2007 ANEM statement:

INADMISSIBLE PRESSURES ON "POLITIKA" EDITORS AND JOURNALISTS

BELGRADE, November 16, 2007 - The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) strongly protests against pressures exerted on editors and journalists of the Belgrade based daily "Politika".

An editorial column published in today's issue of this daily features a text written by Ljiljana Smajlovic, editor-in-chief of the daily "Politika", in which she accused Miroslav Miskovic, President of Delta Holding, of having made phone calls to editors and journalists of this daily to criticize them for their alleged "lack of patriotism", which was reflected, in Miskovic's opinion, in lack of support to his business empire in this daily.

Miskovic, who was ranked 42nd among the 100 richest people in post communist countries in Europe according to the Polish weekly Wprost, which estimated his wealth at 2 billion US dollars, is at the helm of a group of companies listed in Serbia, the formal owner of which is HEMSLADE TRADING LIMITED, a company based in Cyprus. Clearly dissatisfied with the treatment that their company had recently been receiving in Serbian media, Delta Holding threatened, more than a month ago, that they would bring charges against "anybody who states anything untrue about Delta Company or their management".

ANEM would like to remind that, according to the existing laws and regulations, nobody is allowed to limit the freedom of public information, either directly or indirectly. The current Act on Public Information also envisages that nobody is allowed to exert any kind of pressure on any media or their employees, and prohibits any influence intended to interfere with their job.

ANEM also points out that media must be independent from centres of political, but also financial power in order to carry out their primary function in a democratic society, and that they are to be led by the interest of the general public only.

ANEM appeals to all journalists and media associations to condemn such pressures and to openly show their solidarity with journalists and editors of the "Politika" daily, and also with professionals from any other media that are exposed to any kind of pressure.

Sasa Mirkovic,
ANEM President

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