EFJ Urges Bulgaria to Protect Journalists, Press Freedom After Threats Against Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), today called on the Bulgarian government to protect media workers after recent threats made by supporters and members of the Bulgarian ATAKA party, including its leader Volen Siderov to journalists covering the party.

In a letter to Bulgaria’s Prime Minister and other officials, the IFJ and EFJ said they are “standing in solidarity with journalists working in Bulgaria and their affiliates, the Union of Bulgarian Journalists-Podkrepa and the Bulgarian Journalists’ Union, in opposition to these unacceptable threats.”

These threats in particular have been aimed at the staff of Bulgarian daily newspaper 24 Hours and weekly newspaper 168 Hours, which are both owned by the German media company Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ). They include humiliation of individual journalists and serious physical threats issued by Mr. Siderov, his deputy Pavel Shopov and Dimitar Stojanov, ATAKA Member of the Bulgarian Parliament and Member of the European Parliament while the three were with a group of party supporters while another 100 supporters waited nearby.

Following these events, ATAKA organized a protest in Sofia in early March with the motto "Say no to media lies and manipulation!" and called for the “preservation of the national interests” in media. The IFJ considered this march another intimidation tactic used to scare independent media.

The IFJ and EFJ are also urging the defeat of a draft law introduced by ATAKA that asks media outlets to use "accurately and objectively" the information they obtain and to reveal the sources of all its information unless the story is related to an issue that is part of a court case being tried at the same time. The IFJ and EFJ believe that defamation, legal mechanisms exist across Europe that Mr Siderov can use to make libel complaints without resorting to violence or public demonstrations.

Click here to read the letter to Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev.

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The EFJ represents over 260.000 journalists in more than 40 countries