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German television crew expelled from Kosovo; authorities carry out campaign to harass foreign media

(RSF/IFEX) - On 14 August 1998, reporter Friedhelm Brebeck and his two
cameramen were expelled from Kosovo. The journalists, who work for the
German public television channel ARD, were officially accused by authorities
of having incited Albanians to set fire to a house in Junik in order to film
footage of it. Brebeck categorically denies the accusations.

This most recent attack on press freedom occurs within the context of
Serbian authorities freely harassing foreign journalists or correspondents
for foreign media. Over the past six months, at least eight of them have
been assaulted or mistreated. Serbian police have even torn up the
accreditation of several foreign journalists, warning them that they could
"become targets" if the international community imposes sanctions on the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Moreover, many correspondents for the
international media have been refused a visa or denied access to certain
areas within Kosovo.

These repeated threats have yet to be condemned by the FRY government. Worse
still, they have gained justification from comments made by Serbian
government ministers or press officials, who have violently criticised the
foreign media. For instance, in March, Goran Matic, FRY Secretary of
Information, stated that "the world media had committed a massacre against
the truth" in their treatment of events in Kosovo.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:
  • denouncing the attitude of Serbian authorities towards the foreign media,
    indicating that it demonstrates a willingness to have silenced those who
    wish to present a reality that is quite different from what Belgrade offers
  • calling on them to put an end to the harassment of the foreign press as
    well as those who work for foreign media outlets

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Slobodan Milosevic
    Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
    email: [email protected]
    Fax: +38 111 636 (775) / (682) / (167)

    Goran Matic
    Secretary for Information
    Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
    Fax: +381 11 600 446

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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