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Milosevic regime tightens noose around domestic critics and foreign reporters

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 28 April 1999 CPJ review of continued
attacks on the independent media in FRY:

**New cases and updates to IFEX alerts of 27 April, 26 April, 23 April and
22 April 1999**

April 28, 1999

CPJ Update: Milosevic regime tightens noose around domestic critics and

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a nonpartisan organization
dedicated to safeguarding press freedom around the world, has documented
recent moves by Yugoslav authorities to stamp out the last vestiges of
independent reporting, while upping the stakes for foreign correspondents,
who now face the risk of long-term detention.

April 26: Military Censors at TV Studio B

Serbian authorities have placed a military censor in the studios of
Belgrade's Studio B to monitor their daily 7 p.m. half-hour newscast,
assuring that no uncensored information about the army will make it on the
air. The move came in response to Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic's
unscripted remarks which Studio B aired on Sunday, April 25. Draskovic,
whose party controls the city-owned Studio B, criticized the Serb state-run
television network RTS and President Slobodan Milosevic's disinformation
tactics in particular, urging news providers to be more truthful with the
people. The station's broadcasts, as well as all other media in Yugoslavia,
have been subjected to political and military censorship since Serbia
adopted a new information law last October. Draskovic was sacked on April 28
in reprisal for his comments.

Montenegro's Independent Antenna M Radio and Weekly Monitor Suspend
Miodrag Perovic, who heads the independent radio station Antenna M and the
weekly magazine Monitor in Podgorica has gone into hiding. He decided to
close down both operations rather than submit to military censorship. An
outspoken critic of Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, Perovic said he is
trying to avoid capture and possible torture by the Yugoslav Army. In a
recent editorial, Perovic urged the Montenegrin government to stage a de
facto coup by seizing control of the federal army bases located in the

April 25: BBC Crew Detained in Montenegro
BBC correspondent Brian Barron, his cameraman Jonny Bonny, and producer
Simon Wilson, were detained in Podgorica for five hours. They were filming
in a park in the Montenegrin capital when they were confronted by a Yugoslav
federal soldier who accused them of espionage. They were taken to a military
barracks for interrogation. Their videotape was confiscated along with the
names of their local contacts. After a stern warning not to photograph in
the area again, they were released in good condition.

April 24: Japanese Diplomat Allowed Contact with Imprisoned German Reporter
Noriaki Owada, the Japanese ambassador, who represents Germany's interests
in Yugoslavia, was allowed to visit German reporter Hans-Peter "Pit"
Schnitzler in a Belgrade jail. The Japanese ambassador reported that
Schnitzler, the southeast correspondent for Germany's SAT-1 television, was
in good physical condition and did not appear to have been mistreated. Serb
army officials arrested Schnitzler on April 16 and charged him with
espionage. Germany unequivocally denied that the journalist is a spy,
calling the allegations "ridiculous."

French and Croatian Journalists Detained for Alleged Spying
Eric Vaillant, a cameraman for French TF-1 television, and Antun Masle, a
correspondent for the Croatian weekly Globus, were ordered to remain in jail
for 30 days. Eric Vaillant was arrested on April 20 for filming in the area
around Rozaje, Montenegro. Antun Masle was arrested on April 21 when he
crossed the border from Albania. A Yugoslav army judge in Montenegro ordered
a month-long investigation into charges of espionage against both
journalists. If they are found guilty, they face a minimum of 10 years in
prison. French President Jacques Chirac called their detention

April 24: Financial Times Balkans Correspondent Expelled
Guy Dinmore, a correspondent for the Financial Times and a stringer for
Voice of America, was expelled from Belgrade by Yugoslav authorities.

April 23: Editor of Independent TV Soko Given Yearlong Prison Sentence
A Sokobanja district court found Nebojsa Ristic, editor of independent TV
Soko in Sokobanja, guilty of disseminating false information under Article
218 of the Serbian penal code. The charges stemmed from a poster found in
Ristic's office that read, "Free Press Made in Serbia!" along with a Radio
B92 logo. Lawyers for Ristic appealed the decision on April 26, but the
appeal was denied.

April 22: Koha Ditore Resumes Publication in Macedonia
Koha Ditore, Kosovo's largest independent Albanian-language daily, which was
shut down by Yugoslav forces on March 22, has renewed publishing in
Macedonia. Editor-in-Chief Baton Haxhiu is overseeing the reconstructed

For background information on the media crackdown in Yugoslavia, contact
Chrystyna Lapychak at CPJ, 330 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001, U.S.A.,
tel: +1 212 465 9344 x 101, fax: +1 212 465 9568, e-mail: [email protected],

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