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Defamation charges filed against initiators and signatories of petition highlighting concerns over press freedom climate

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an IPI press release:

Vienna, 7 February 2008

IPI Urges Prosecutors to Drop Defamation Charges in Slovenia

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, strongly criticises the defamation charges brought against the individuals who established and signed the "Petition Against Censorship and Political Pressures on Journalists in Slovenia" (the Petition).

According to information before IPI, on 6 February 2008, a group of six Slovenian citizens filed defamation charges with the Slovenian Public Prosecutor's Office against the initiators and signatories of the Petition. The group claims that the allegations made in the Petition are completely untrue, and that its distribution in international circles defames the Slovenian Republic, has damaged Slovenia's good reputation, and has inflicted political and material damage on the Slovenian state.

The Petition was initiated in September 2007 by journalists Blaz Zgaga and Matej Surc and signed by 571 journalists. It highlighted their concerns over political pressures exerted on the media in Slovenia.

"Although IPI makes no comment on the content of the original Petition, we strongly urge that all charges are dropped immediately, and I would encourage the government to speak out against groups who seek to protect the state's reputation in a democracy where free and open debate should not only be allowed but welcomed," said David Dadge, IPI Director. "I would also invite the government to consider removing the law under which the charges have been made, so that it cannot be applied again. Laws that protect the state's reputation serve no purpose in a modern society."

IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

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