Comment 27 Oct 17

Media Abuse Becomes Strategy of Choice in Albanian Politics

As Albania’s prime minister slammed journalists in an attempt to deflect scrutiny after parliament blocked the arrest of the former interior minister, reporters were also verbally abused in the street - a development that could have consequences for press freedom.

Gjergj Erebara
BIRN
Tirana
Edi Rama, Albanian Prime Minister. Photo: Malton Dibra/LSA

Journalists in Albania are used to insults. When the army of online trolls backing the party attack them each time they dare to criticise their beloved leaders they either ignore it or give it back. But last week, the keyboard warriors seemed to have left the bedroom for the street.

On Saturday morning at the parliament gates, journalists questioned MP Saimir Tahiri, the former Interior Minister, in relation to the charges of corruption and international drug trafficking against him.

What they got was a barrage of abuse from his supporters. While they might normally keep their threats to comments section, this time the charges were serious enough to bring the mob outdoors.

The charges

Tahiri’s luck in keeping the Interior Ministry’s top job for nearly four years went sour last week, when Italian police put out warrants and arrested about 11 members of a criminal organisation responsible for trafficking tons of marijuana from southern Albania to Sicily.

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