CPJ backs investigation of plot to murder journalist

New York, July 25, 2002–The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by news reports that Czech investigative reporter Sabina Slonkova was the target of a murder plot allegedly planned by Karel Srba, the former general secretary of the Czech Foreign Ministry.

Srba was arrested on July 19–in addition to three others who were arrested on July 18–on suspicion of planning to kill the journalist, according to Czech and international sources.

Slonkova, who works for the Prague daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, has written frequently about Srba in recent years. She told the Czech News Agency (CTK) that she believes she was targeted because she covered controversial business deals that Srba had made while in the ministry.

One of the alleged hired assassins warned police of the planned murder, and Slonkova went into hiding for 10 days while detectives sought out those behind the plot.

“While such cases are rare in the Czech Republic, the threats to Slonkova highlight the dangers that investigative reporters face when they delve into criminal activities,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We expect and encourage Czech authorities to investigate this case fully and openly.”