EFJ Backs Journalists in Macedonia TV Fight

The European Federation

of Journalists (EFJ) today called for the A1TV television network in Macedonia to

be allowed to continue broadcasting following political and judicial pressure

that threatens the future of independent and critical journalism in the

country.

Journalists working

at A1 TV, and the newspapers Vreme, Shpic and Koha e Re, have issued calls for

help following action to freeze the accounts of their company and in the face

of a court action that they claim is in violation of the country's

Constitution.

Since January 27 A1 TV

has been airing its programmes from the street in front of the Government

building, at sub-zero temperatures, in protest over the freezing of the bank

accounts of media outlets owned by controversial businessman Velija Ramkovski

who is in detention accused of tax offences.

The station and the

group's newspapers have long been targeted by the government for vigorous

journalism exposing official corruption and for its pro-European Union

editorial stance.

Journalists claim the

freezing of the accounts by the courts is direct pressure and an attempt to

close down the group.

"There are reasons to

be seriously worried by this action," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary.

"When the target of the government and the courts are the most critical media

in the country, it raises legitimate concerns about the real intentions of the

Government in this case."

The country's political opposition

has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the state of media freedom in

Macedonia. On Friday, nearly all of the country's opposition parties launched a

parliament boycott, arguing that the move to shut down media outlets meant

"death for a democracy".

The EFJ notes that

the group have been under constant pressure of the Government for years and

have been labelled as "traitors of the nation" and "spies"

because of its fiercely independent editorial line and its investigation of corruption

and governmental abuse.

"We ask the

authorities to think again and to consider the threat to press freedom in this

case," said White. "We note, too, that Macedonia's record on press freedom is

poor and has been noted as such at European Union level."

The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists

in 30 countries

For more information contact

the EFJ at +32 2 235.2200