B92 reporter wants her police protection revoked

Brankica Stankovic has asked the Interior Ministry to as soon as possible revoke her police protection, and took personal responsibility for the move.

Source: B92

The author of B92 TV's investigative program Insajder was given police protection in 2009 by a decision of the competent institutions.

The reason for her letter was, among other things, a negative campaign started after the first episode of a new series, Reporter, was broadcast this week. The series deals with football clubs and leading people from those clubs and some media have been questioning the decision to assign security to the reporter.

The daily Informer, owned by Dragan J. Vucicevic, has been at the forefront of the campaign that also includes Nebojsa Covic and Milorad Vucelic, who earlier this week appeared on Pink TV to mock and challenged the state's decision to place the journalist under 24-hour protection, which can effectively be considered as an open invitation to lynch.

In the explanation of her request, Stankovic noted that this is a country where journalists Slavko Curuvija, Milan Pantic and Dada Vujasinovi have been murdered, as was Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, and that for that reason, as a journalist whose safety is endangered according to official data, she considers it unacceptable that state representatives are not responding to numerous falsehoods in a campaign led by those who have already done something similar in 2002.

"Everyone knows, and you do as well, according to available news archives, that precisely some journalists and tabloids led a similar campaign before the assassination of the Serbian prime minister. Their papers were at the time filled stories headlined, 'Who is Djindjic afraid of?', 'What does Djindjic need security for?', etc," she wrote.

"Before the murder of Slavko Curuvija a Politika journalist's commentary was read in the RTS news bulletin that clearly called for the lynch and prepared the ground for what would happen.There are many such examples and that is why I consider this disregard unacceptable when the state's decision to assign protection to someone based on assessments is publicly challenged. With such silence the state shows how powerless it is, and that leads to additional threats to one's security."

"Because of this, I have no choice but to take personal responsibility for the decision and ask that my security is revoked in the shorted possible time because obviously that was the aim of this whole campaign," reads the letter.

Informer recently published an entirely fabricated article about the security assigned to Stankovic. Although only the state, that is, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic have assess to that information, he on Friday refused to deny the allegations from the article, stating that would, it itself, "jeopardize safety."

Asked whether he would announce that the claims are lies, and why he was not doing that, the minister replied that if he were to engage in denying or confirmed everything that appears in the media, he would "have to do that all day."

"As far as the different information about the protection of different people, I would be very irresponsible if I shared this information with a wider audience, because it would jeopardize the safety of those persons... Freedom of the media is something that we all say is a democratic right and I cannot influence what the media will publish each day. When you say that someone that has this or that level of security or reveal that someone's protection has been withdrawn, anyone can use that. I do not want to talk about the details, but there is a reason for assigning protection to everyone we assigned it to."

When asked about the allegations about Stankovic presented in a newspaper close to the government, Stefanovic said: "Considering the type of fabrications I've read about myself in various media, I can assure you there is no media close to the government in Serbia. Not to mention what they were saying about Aleksandar Vucic. It would be in poor taste to repeat it."

The minister also said that officers from special police units "will not be anyone's babysitters," and that changes would be made when determining the level and regime of protection in the future, but then noted he was "not saying that related to the case of Brankica Stankovic."

Asked who decided that special units would provide security to journalists, the minister said:

"I know I was not a minister then, I am merely announcing what will be new in the Republic of Serbia, without any connection to this case. This is not about that, nor did any of the protected persons have an option to choose who would provide protection for them, nor do I claim that. I'm just saying it so that people are not surprised. I have nothing against special units people moving to that unit that will be providing protection, if they are attached to some protected person, or if the protected person feels safer. But there will be one special unit in Serbia that will deal with counter-terrorist operations and those duties given to special units everywhere in the world, and not with protection," said Stefanovic.

He added that "as far as everything else is concerned" he did not wish to share any more information "related to endangerment." The minister also said that any person assigned protection can renounce it, but that this never happened before, and that he was "not inviting them to do it, because they endanger their safety in that way."

"If we tell them they are under threat I plead with them to believe that estimate and let us do our job. Sometimes these threats are not brutal and dramatic but a latent threat is still a threat, and we do not want anyone in Serbia to be threatened, we wish to to save the integrity and life of every person we protect," Stefanovic said.

Politics

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