IFJ Demands Reversal of Ruling against Albanian TV over Undercover Film

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused Albanian authorities of violating press freedom

rights after a court in Tirana awarded damages of 400.000 EUR over a case of

investigative journalism in which a senior government official was exposed for

promising jobs in exchange for sexual favours.

Ylli

Pango, former minister of Culture, Tourism , Youth and Sport, was exposed by the

network Top Channel in a video which showed a secret film of him promising jobs

to a young woman in exchange for sexual favours. He resigned from his position

after the broadcast.

"This

decision is almost as scandalous as the practices the programme sought to

expose and should not stand," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "This is

a case where public interest outweighed the privacy of a senior public figure

who was acting quite unethically."

According

to reports, the court case arose from Top Channel's broadcast on 4 March of its

investigation into the conduct of Pango following allegations that he was

soliciting sexual intercourse with young women to whom he promised jobs. The

channel's female journalist had posed as potential employee and secretly

recorded her conversation with the former minister to confirm the allegations.

The

court found that the investigation violated Pango's personal privacy and

ordered Top Channel to pay him record damages.

The

IFJ says the ruling is likely to undermine the kind of investigative journalism

which renders a public service in a democracy by ensuring that the powerful are

not shielded from the scrutiny and accountability to the public.

"The

impact of this decision goes beyond the issue of press freedom in Albania and

appears to contravene European human rights protection for press freedom,"

added White. "It is also a blow to open government which commands public trust.

It must be set aside by a higher court."

For more information

contact the IFJ at     +32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists

in 125 countries worldwide