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News 09 Mar 17

Albania Journalist Links Assault to Drug Traffickers

An Albanian journalist who was assaulted by two unknown assailants on Wednesday in Tirana has blamed unnamed media enterprises linked to drug traffickers.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Albania journalist Elvi Fundo was assaaulted on Wednesday, March 8th, in Tirana

Elvi Fundo, director of the news portal Citynews.al and Radio Best, was beaten up by unidentified assailants near Tirana’s train station on Wednesday and later hospitalized.

“Two individuals attacked me near my office at 10.30am, causing injuries,” Fundo said. “I don’t believe it’s a political attack but the work of criminals financed by corrupt media clans tied to drug-trafficking,” he added without providing details.

The police have launched an investigation to identify the assailants.

The attack drew universal condemnation in Albania from politicians, state institutions and journalists’ associations.

“This is a grave act and a direct threat to media freedom and freedom of expression,” the Audiovisual Media Authority, AMA, said.  

The opposition Democratic Party also condemned the attack, while blaming the government for failing to protect the media and freedom of expression in the country.

“This attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press comes at a time when the [Edi] Rama government is frontally engaged in blackmail and threats against the media,” the Democratic Party said.

Responding to those accusations, Socialist Prime Minister Rama condemned the attack and accused the opposition of politicizing it.

“I strongly condemn the attack on the journalist Elvi Fundo. Those [responsible] for this crime should be exposed immediately.  It’s an abomination that the opposition is trying to politicize it,” Rama wrote on Twitter.

The Albanian Union of Journalists said that the attack was likely a reaction to Fundo’s stories “about corruption and corrupt affairs”.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović welcomed the condemnation of the attack by Prime Minister Rama, the Union of Albanian Journalists and Audiovisual Media Authority, noting that an investigation had been launched.

“I trust the authorities will swiftly investigate the attack and bring those responsible to justice,” Mijatović said.

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