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
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 www.iwpr.net,
or contact in the UK Mirna Jancic, (4420) 7713 7130.
AILING FILIPOVIC RETURNED TO PRISON
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
A full dossier of Filipovic's articles and background on
the case is available on the Internet at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARTIN BELL TO HEAD FRIENDS OF FILIPOVIC
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.
MILITARY PROSECUTOR SEEKS HEAVIER SENTENCE
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.
JOURNALIST ESPIONAGE TRIAL BEGINS
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.
FILIPOVIC REFUSED BAIL
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.
EUROPEAN JOURNALISM AWARD TO FILIPOVIC
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.
FILIPOVIC CUSTODY EXTENDED AGAIN
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.
FILIPOVIC INDICTED FOR ESPIONAGE
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.
INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS MEET IN KRALJEVO
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.
FRANCE PRESS CORRESPONDENT IN COURT AGAIN
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.
COURT RESUMES FRANCE PRESS CORRESPONDENT HEARING
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.
FRANCE PRESS CORRESPONDENT RELEASED FROM MILITARY PRISON
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
FRANCE PRESS CORRESPONDENT HANDED TO MILITARY COURT
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.
FRANCE PRESS CORRESPONDENT IN COURT
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.