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SLOVENIA: Delo Journalist threatened by State Secretary for National Security

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– Article by European Federation of Journalists, published on 16 April 2021, available here.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined Slovenian journalists and journalists’ unions in condemning the new threat against Delo’s Brussels correspondent Peter Žerjavič on Twitter.

The Slovenian government is known to publicly attack and discredit critical journalists and media outlets. The latest in date occurred on 8 April 2021 on Twitter. The Slovenian State Secretary for National Security, Žan Mahnič, threatened Delo’s Brussels correspondent Peter Žerjavič after he had posted a tweet criticising Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša‘s attack on the German national television ARD.

Commenting under Žerjavič’ criticism, Mahnič said: “Who in the EU cares what some irrelevant ARD thinks. You should worry about how many more Thursday afternoons you will have fun on Luxembourg Square if Petrič fails to get annexes for the second railway”. Luxembourg Square is the main square in the European Quarter of Brussels, where Žerjavič works.

This open threat refers to Stojan Petrič, a co-owner and director of Delo newspaper, who also owns a construction company. A contract was recently signed with the Slovenian government to build a railway to the port of Koper.

In reaction, Delo’s journalists executive committee and the editorial board management jointly condemned the threat and considered it is “a brutal attack” on his colleague as well as on Delo’s independent editorial policy.

“We understand this as another attempt of political pressure on individual journalists or media houses, which we have been facing in Slovenia recently.”

“The media are not the trumpet of politics, but the reporters of a social reality that is much broader than the political one. The media are not above criticism either, but this criticism should be based on facts and not on flat, insulting and unfounded accusations against the media and individual journalists,” they wrote.

The EFJ reiterated its call on the Slovenian government to stop fuelling hostility towards the press. Last year, the Slovene Association of Journalists reported that more and more journalists are getting verbally attacked by strangers on the street, receiving insulting messages to private phone numbers, as well as threats on social media.