Search at NetPress Protest to express Support for Mitovski

On Thursday, the Macedonian Association of Journalists (MAJ) organised a protest to express support Editor-in-Chief Aleksandar Mitovski, for whom an indictment proposal had been filed several days prior over the minutes in relation to the Racketeering case. “There are 60 pre-investigations and investigations, questioning threats, charges and processes against media that aren’t close to the ruling structure,” MAJ President Ivona Talevska said, describing Macedonia and Turkey as “black spots” in Southeast Europe in terms of media freedoms. Mitovski said the pressure that was underway was unbearable. Both he and Talevski said during the protest that a search was underway at the NetPress editorial board upon an order from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, adding that the authorities were trying to find materials about a published investigative story backed by published documents. VMRO-DPMNE commented on the NetPress situation. “Today, SDSM’s regime and dictatorship showed their true colours. Today, during the protest against criminal and political persecution of journalists and media that are critical of the Government, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office and police entered yet another medium not controlled by SDSM and Zaev and terrorised the journalists,” spokesperson Dimce Arsovski said. According to Kanal 5 TV, police entered NetPress because of a text concerning the M-NAV case. Three Interior Ministry inspectors wanted to find out how who had given NetPress the documents published in December of last year. The inspectors came upon an order from a public prosecutor, who suspects that with that, the medium committed the crime of disclosing an official secret. Monday also saw the Agency for Audio and Audivisual Services present a stand on the indictment proposal for Mitovski. “Publication of documents with information of high public interest is one of free and independent media’s substantive tasks because such public supervision guarantees accountability and transparency of political and public organs,” it said. According to the Agency, in their work, journalists must respect professional and ethical journalism standards while institutions should take into consideration that filing charges against journalists over publication of information has a negative impact on the achievement of the common goal, that is, protection of public interest. Explaining the proposal, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office pointed to Article 360 of the Criminal Code, which says: “Whosoever announces, hands over, or in some other manner makes available data to the public or to an unauthorized person, which are considered to be an official secret, or who acquires such data with the intent to announce them or hand them over to the public or to an unauthorised person, shall be sentenced to imprisonment of three months to five years.”