news 01 Sep 16

Macedonian Journalists Demand Release of Zoran Bozinovski

The Journalists Association will protest in front of the Skopje court on Thursday to demand the release of a journalist who has been in detention since April, accused of spying and extortion.

Sase Dimovski
BIRN
Skopje
Zoran Bozinovski. Photo: Robert Atanasovski.

Issuing a call for the protest on Thursday, the president of the Journalists Association, Naser Selmani, recalled that Macedonia and Turkey are the only countries in Europe where journalists are still imprisoned for their work.

The Journalists Association has called Bozinovski's arrest "politically motivated and aimed at silencing journalists who had the courage to expose scandals about the authorities".

The Journalists Union and the Macedonia Institute for Media, as well as other organisations, have supported the protest.

"The legal system can not be used for political vendettas ... The right to a fair trial is a fundamental human right and the state has to secure it equally for all citizens," the organisations said in a joint press release.

The protest is set for Thursday when the Court has scheduled the first hearing in the case against Bozinovski.  

Bozinovski was arrested in Serbia in late April and extradited to Macedonia on an arrest warrant as a suspect in an espionage case dubbed "Spy".

Bozinovski, who spent the last few years in neighbouring Serbia, where he said felt safer than at home, is well known in Macedonia for his political blog, Burevesnik, which was critical of the ruling VMRO DPMNE-led government and of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

The "Spy" prosecutions began in Macedonia in 2013. Former and current intelligence officers from the civil and military intelligence, former police officers, the former head of the directorate for the fight against money laundering and the former chef-de-cabinet of the speaker of parliament, were accused of criminal association, espionage and blackmail.

The trial ended in October 2014 with convictions but the Appeal Court has yet to give its own ruling because in the meantime the case was transferred to the Special Prosecution, founded to tackle the massive wiretapping scandal that has embroiled Macedonia for the past two years.

On the same day, on September 1, the Special Prosecution is set to appear before the Appeal Court in the Spy case, for the first time since it took over the case.

The Special Prosecution has aked the regular prosecution to turn the Bozinovski case over to them - but that demand has been refused.

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