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Miroslav Filipovic, the Serbian journalist imprisoned for human rights reporting, was released today after an appeal court overturned his conviction for espionage and spreading false information.

The appeal, orginally scheduled for the end of the month, was brought forward as one of the first acts of the incoming Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica.

"I feel wonderful, great. I never lost hope when I was in prison, " Filipovic said. " But if it wasn't for my colleagues here and abroad this saga would not have been concluded so soon."

Filipovic articles for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting led to him being sentenced to seven years imprisonment for espionage and spreading false information.

The Supreme Military Court, headed by judge Colonel Milan Ranic, ruled the conviction unsafe because of "procedural abuses during the investigation."

Filipovic's wife, Slavica, travelled to Nis, where Filipovic had been held since May, to present the court's ruling to the Military Court, upon which Filipovic was released.

"I am delighted that a brave colleague who has struggled for the truth is now free," said Martin Bell, the former BBC correspondent and independent Member of Parliament, who has served as chair of the Friends of Filipovic Committee. "There is more work to be done, but this is a very positive early sign from the new authorities in Belgrade."

Filipovic says he hopes the new authorities will recruit the best people in Serbia to help bring about democratic changes, "We need new institutions and they have to be made up of the best citizens."

Anthony Borden, IWPR executive director, noted that Filipovic was "one of the first to signal the cracks within the military establishment itself, which would become decisive during the sudden revolution. He has been a crucial protagonist in the dramatic changes we are seeing in Serbia today."

Filipovic faces a period of recuperation. While in prison, he suffered a potentially life-threatening heart condition, as well as a dramatic loss of weight, with the authorities denying him essential medical care.

After spending one month in military hospital under basic medical surveillance, Filipovic was moved back to prison only four days before the elections in Yugoslavia, leading to a further deterioration in his health condition.

Human rights groups widely welcomed Filipovic's release, while calling on the new administration to consider early appeals for the political prisoners in Serbian prisons, including human rights activist Florina Brovina and many hundreds of other Kosovo Albanians.

For further information on Filipovic, or to make a donation to the Filipovic Fund for outstanding legal and medical costs, as well as for his family's support, visit, or contact in the UK Mirna Jancic, (4420) 7713 7130.



LONDON, 21.09.2000 - Miroslav Filipovic, the Serbian journalist imprisoned for human rights reporting in Yugoslavia, has been removed from hospital and returned to military prison in Nis. The move, in advance of elections in Yugoslavia next week, comes only days after Amnesty International warned of the risks of heart attack if Filipovic is not given urgent medical treatment.

"I am extremely concerned by this development, and Yugoslav authorities must guarantee access to proper medical treatment," said Martin Bell, the independent British MP and former BBC war correspondent who heads the Friends of Filipovic Committee, an international consortium of human rights and free speech groups. "Filipovic is a political prisoner, and everyone who cares about the freedom of the press should support the appeal for his release."

Filipovic's arrest and conviction this July, for a series of investigative articles over the Internet on atrocities by the Yugoslav forces, has attracted widespread international condemnation and is seen within Serbia as an example by the regime to independent media and other democratic voices. Filipovic has been named European Internet Journalist of the Year and was short-listed for Amnesty International's prestigious global human rights reporting award.

Justifying his return to prison, Yugoslav authorities claim Filipovic's condition has improved. Amnesty International, which has adopted Filipovic as a prisoner of conscience, and other independent medical assessments have concluded that Filipovic is a serious risk if he does not urgently receive medicine and other essential treatment, including a fully equipped cardiology unit. Filipovic, 49, has also suffered severe weight loss in prison and has been hospitalised since early August.

Anthony Borden, executive director of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, which published Filipovic's articles on the Internet, called on the international community to express its concern.

"With high-profile 'disappearances' and other measures to silence opposition voices in Serbia, any move of such a prisoner must be suspect," Borden said. "Miroslav Filipovic represents the best of democratic Serbia working for change, and we call on the authorities to grant clemency on humanitarian grounds."
A full dossier of Filipovic's articles and background on the case is available on the Internet at:



LONDON, 24.08.2000 – Martin Bell, MP, former BBC war correspondent and independent Member of Parliament (UK), is to lead an international “Friends of Filipovic Committee” to support activities on behalf of Miroslav Filipovic, the Serbian journalist jailed for seven years on charges of “espionage” for reporting on war crimes by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo. The Committee, formed today by a coalition of leading international human rights and press freedom groups, reported that Filipovic’s condition in prison is deteriorating. According to his family, surgery required for his heart condition is not available in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. “I regard Filipovic as a political prisoner. Everyone who cares about the freedom of the press should support the appeal for his release,” Bell said today. Filipovic, 49, who was recently named European Internet Journalist of the Year, is currently held in a military prison in Nis, southern Serbia, and was visited this week by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Friends Committee will coordinate efforts to build awareness of the case within Serbia and internationally, and to support Filipovic and his family. A series of rock concerts dedicated to Filipovic are being held in various cities in Serbia, a petition with more than 1,000 names calling for his release has been published in local newspapers, and other activities are planned. The actions take place in advance of elections in Serbia 24 September. Many western governments, international institutions and nongovernmental organisations have issued statements condemning the harsh sentence, handed down in July. Several senior international diplomats and negotiators have also engaged in the case. The Friends Committee has also helped build widespread international press coverage. An appeal of the verdict is expected to be heard this autumn. The Friends Committee appeals for contributions to its Legal Defence and Family Support Fund. The founding members of the Friends Committee are: Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists, the European Centre of the Freedom Forum, Index on Censorship, the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR), the UK National Union of Journalists and Reporters sans Frontiers. Groups in Serbia associated with the campaign include: Anem/B2-92, Apostrof, the Serbian Association of Independent Journalists and the Citizens’ Parliament of Serbia. All press and free speech organisations are encouraged to join the Committee. For further information on Filipovic and the work of the Committee, or to make a donation, visit , or contact in the UK Anna McTaggert or Mirna Jancic, (4420) 7713 7130.



NIS, 18.08.2000 - The Nis Military Prosecutor has sought to have the seven year prison sentence imposed last month on Kraljevo journalists Miroslav Filipovic increased. Filipovic was sentenced by the Nis Military Court after being convicted of espionage and the dissemination of false information. His lawyer Zoran Ateljevic said today that the prisoner had filed an appeal against the sentence of five years for espionage. The offence carries a maximum penalty of fifteen years' imprisonment. Ateljevic told Beta that the defence would also file appeals alleging violation of the Criminal Proceedings Act and the Criminal Code and for untrue and incomplete investigation results. Belgrade pro-regime media today accused Filipovic of being a traitor, a political propagandist and a NATO puppet who was unable to resist the smell of foreign currency. The article claims that Filipovic, acting on foreign orders, had accused the Yugoslav Army of crimes its members did not and could not commit without being able to support his claims before the Nis Military Court.



NIS, July 25, 2000 -- The Nis Military Court today began hearing charges of espionage and disseminating false information against Kraljevo journalist Miroslav Filipovic. Deputy military prosecutor Aleksandar Kalicanin asked for the court to be closed to the public because classified military information would be presented as evidence. Filipovic, who is a correspondent for France Presse and Belgrade daily Danas, is charged with committing espionage by collecting confidential military information between May 1999 and May 2000 in order to forward it to foreign organisations such as France Presse and the British Institute for Peace. It is alleged that he revealed information about the military and political situation, the activities and morale of soldiers in Yugoslavia and Montenegro and mobilisation in Serbia. The prosecution also alleges that Filipovic committed the crime of disseminating false information and alarming the public by writing in his articles that the Yugoslav Army had committed crimes in Kosovo and attacked and destroyed villages in the province.



BELGRADE, July 10, 2000 The Supreme Military Court in Nis has dismissed a demand for release on bail from the lawyers for jailed Kraljevo journalist Miroslav Filipovic.  According to state-run daily Vecernje novosti, the demand was dismissed on the grounds that the charges of espionage and the dissemination of false information were merited the extension of remand in custody.  The court feared that freeing Filipovic would influence witnesses and invalidate further proceedings against him.  One of Filipovic’s lawyers, Goran Draganic, told Radio B2-92 that this response had not yet been received in writing, but that the information had come on good authority.



LONDON, July 8, 2000  -  Jailed Kraljevo journalist Miroslav Filipovic has won the European Internet Journalist of the year award. The NetMedia Foundation said yesterday that it was presenting the award to Filipovic for what it described as a brave article about Yugoslav Army atrocities in Kosovo which could be published only on the Internet. Filipovic is in custody in Nis, charged with espionage and disseminating false information over the same article. His son Sasa and daughter Marija accepted the award in London yesterday on his behalf.



NIS, June 16, 2000 - The Military court in Nis has extended the custody of Danas and AFP correspondent Miroslav Filipovic, who is being tried for espionage and dissemination of false information. President of the Military Court in Nis Colonel Vukadin Milojevic said that Filipovic had the right to appeal against the decision within three days. He claimed that Filipovic was in custody to prevent the possibility of his influencing witnesses, or disappearing.



NIS, June 15, 2000 -- The France Press and Danas correspondent for the southern Serbian city of Kraljevo, Miroslav Filipovic has been formally charged with the criminal offences of espionage and dissemination of false information, the president of the Nis Military Court, Colonel Vukadin Milojevic, said yesterday. Milojevic told media the charges would be effective once a ruling had been handed down on an appeal already before the court. After that, he said, the court would schedule a hearing of the charges.



KRALJEVO, June 12, 2000 - The Independent Association of Serbian Journalists met today in the southern Serbian city of Kraljevo. The session was dedicated to the town's France Press and Danas correspondent, Miroslav Filipovic, who is being held in custody by the Nis Military Court on charges of espionage and disseminating false information. Members of Filipovic's family attended the meeting together with representatives of the independent media, the democratic opposition and Otpor. After the meeting, which discussed regime repression of media and journalists, participants signed a petition for the release of the jailed journalist. The petition had been signed by 200 citizens of Kraljevo by last night, said New Serbia spokesman Gordana Tosic, who launched the campaign.



NIS, May 30, 2000 - The investigating judge of the Military Court in Nis today continued interrogating Kraljevo France Press and Danas correspondent Miroslav Filipovic who has been accused of espionage and disseminating false information. Defence lawyer Zoran Ataljevic told Beta that the Military Court had still not responded to complaints about Filipovic's detention. Ateljevic added that, as a precautionary measure, the defence had requested that the application for Filipovic to be released from remand custody be entered in the court register. The investigating judge of the Nis Military Court, on the application of the military prosecutor, last week ruled that Filipovic be remanded in custody for thirty days.



NIS, May 25, 2000 -- The Military Court in Nis today resumed its investigation of charges against France Press and Danas correspondent Miroslav Filipovic who has been charged with espionage and disseminating false information. Defence lawyer Zoran Ateljevic told Radio B2-92 that a complaint had been lodged on illegalities pertaining to Filipovic's custody and the investigation. These, he said, had not been addressed and the proceedings had continued in the meantime. "We expect the Criminal Council of the Nis Military court to respond to the complaints within 48 hours in accordance with the law," said Ateljevic.



NIS, May 13, 2000 -- The Kraljevo correspondent for France press and Belgrade daily Danas, Miroslav Filipovic, has been released from the Nis Military Prison after an investigating judge in the Nis Military Court declined to extend a remand order. Defence lawyer Goran Draganic told Beta agency that the custody was terminated after military prosecutor Stanimir Radosavljevic told the court on Friday that he would not demand investigation within the legal deadline of 48 hours.

Radosavljevic said he did not rule out the possibility of an investigation of Filipovic in the future. “I could make a decision in a week or a month or when I find time for it,” he said.

After his release from the military prison, Filipovic told media that he had “dismissed the possibility” of dealing with espionage, which was why the Kraljevo police had filed criminal charges against him. “I reject any suggestion that I have committed the criminal act of espionage: if somebody wants to do these things he doesn’t publish that information under his full name,” said Filipovic. “The other criminal offence is that of disseminating false information and I assume that this refers to information about the army and police because State Security inspectors, during an interrogation, asked about my sources of information relating to the army and police,” the France Press correspondent told media.



NIS, Thursday May 11, 2000 -- The Kraljevo correspondent for France Press and Belgrade daily Danas, Miroslav Filipovic, appeared before the military court in Nis today. The president of the court, Colonel Vukadin Milojevic, said that he had received criminal charges for Filipovic from the District Court in Kraljevo where Filipovic had been sentenced to thirty days in prison. Milojevic added that he had not yet seen the charges because the papers were with the military prosecutor, but that Filipovic had been accused of espionage, which carries a sentence of three to fifteen years’ imprisonment.



KRALJEVO, May 10, 2000 -- Journalist Miroslav Filipovic appeared in the Kraljevo District Court today in an investigative procedure.  Filipovic is the Kraljevo correspondent for France Press and Belgrade daily Danas.  He was arrested late on Monday and equipment and documents seized from his apartment.

Filipovic’s wife, Slavica, said today that no charges had been laid against the journalist.  Danas legal representative Goran Draganic told media that the first part of the investigation indicated that such charges would be grave and would relate to endangering the constitutional order and security of Yugoslavia.

© FreeB92, 2000