IFJ/EFJ, SEEMO and WAZ Demand Justice after Attack on Albanian Journalist

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the South East Europe Media Organisation

(SEEMO) and WAZ Media Group today jointly condemned the attack on Albanian

journalist Mero Baze yesterday evening in Tirana.

"This is a brutal and vicious attack on a

professional journalist that demands a thorough and independent investigation to

punish the perpetrators", declared IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "The evidence

strongly suggests he has been assaulted for his work. Those who committed and

ordered this crime need to be brought to justice. Failure would sustain the culture

of impunity that forces journalists to live and work in fear and destroys

democratic fabric of the country".

According to our information, Mero

Baze was attacked by the bodyguards of businessman Bezart Taci as he was

leaving a pub in downtown Tirana yesterday evening. The bodyguards beat up Baze

for several minutes before leaving. Baze had to be helped to be transferred to

the hospital. The police arrested two men after the attack and are still

looking for Mr Taci. Today the Albanian authorities also condemned the attacks.

Baze

is the editor of the daily Tema and currently contributes to the Factor

Plus programme broadcast by Vizion Plus TV channel of which the WAZ

Media Group owns a share. It is not the first time that Baze has been targeted.

His paper Tema was expelled from its office last January and he has been

threatened several times in the past.



This attack comes on the eve of the third South

East Europe Media Forum to take place in Tirana from the 4 - 6 of November,

where high-ranking media representatives from the South East European region

will debate the challenges facing the media industry and present for the first

"WAZ-IFJ Prize for Courage in Journalism".

Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General,

condemned also these attacks "Physical attacks on journalists are both

unacceptable and alarming, and indeed we welcome the condemnation of this act by Albanian autorities.

Journalists must be able to report without fear of harassment and intimidation.

This case is very worrying because this is not the first time that a journalist

in Albania

was physically attacked, and also not the first time, that this was done

by bodyguards. This  act of violence is obviously aimed at intimidating

the work of journalists and investigative reporters in Albania".

The WAZ Media Group stands in full solidarity

with the condemnations of the two professional groups and calls on the media

for comprehensive reporting on this case.

For more information contact the IFJ/EFJ at

  +32 2 235 2200      
The IFJ represents

over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide. Its European group, the EFJ, represents over 250,000 in 30 European countries.

The

SEEMO, an affiliate of theInternational

Press Institute (IPI), is

a regional non-governmental, non-profit networkof editors, media executives and leading journalists from

newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations, news agencies and new media in

South East Europe.

The WAZ Media Group, based in Essen, is one of the largest European media

groups. It is active in Germany,

Austria, Croatia, Serbia,

Macedonia, Bulgaria, Rumania,

Hungary and Russia, and has

18.000 employees.