Mapping Media Freedom: Big Increase in Threats Reported in Albania During 2020 – Exit – Explain Albania

Since the beginning of 2020, Albania has registered a total of nine threats against media freedom on the ECPMF Mapping Media Freedom Website.

This is a concerning number for a country of such a small size and is more than double the incidents from 2019. If you combine the number of threats over the last 12 months, rather than just the last eight months, the total rises to 13

The most recent incident was that of ReportTV journalist Elvis Hila who was obstructed and detained by police as he tried to report on the demolition of properties by the National Inspectorate of the Protection of Territory on a local beach. As he was filming one incident, the Chief of Lezhe police approached him and took the phone from his hands. He was then escorted to a police vehicle where he was kept for some moment while the footage he filmed was deleted. The police and the Ministry of the Interior have not provided any information on why he was detained.

Also recorded was the violent detention of Politiko editor Alfred Lela as he was reporting on the demolition of the National Theatre. Photos and video footage showed him being handcuffed and dragged as well as lying down on the pavement while in the custody of several officers. He claims he was assaulted by the police while in custody.

The recent attempt by the state to close down Ora News was also mentioned. In May, RTV Ora was informed it had to pay a fine by the National Health Inspectorate for supposedly violating COVID-19 measures. It then had additional fines levied against it before the Inspectorate said that the station must close. AMA then backtracked and said there was no decision to close the station.

Exit News also received a mention following a cyber attack it experienced in April of this year. The platform was hit by a targeted cyber-attack which took down the website for 24 hours and tried to delete all data from the websites database. Mapping Media Freedom noted that Exit is one of the few critical media in Albania and had recently published articles criticising the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Had the cyber attack been successful, Exit would have lost every article written in the last five years. Thankfully, the attack was stopped but was described as having a high level of sophistication by IT experts engaged by Exit.

Other incidents include harassment against Ora News journalist Sonila Meco, the detention of editor and journalist at FAX News, Bekim Bici, threats against Ora News journalist Elio Laze by employees of government-favourite contractor Salillari, and the voicemail left by Prime Minister Edi Rama advising citizens to protect themselves from the media.

Fjal kye: Albania, ECPMF, media freedom, press freedom

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Mapping Media Freedom: Big Increase in Threats Reported in Albania During 2020 - Exit - Explain Albania

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