Journalist attacked after exposing high-level corruption

New York, June 25, 2005—Alina Anghel, 29, an investigative journalist with the opposition weekly tabloid Timpul, based in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, was attacked outside her home on the morning of Wednesday, June 23, as she was leaving for work, according to local and international news reports.

Two unidentified assailants hit Anghel with a metal bar, leaving her with a brain concussion and a broken arm. She is currently hospitalized. The assailants also robbed Anghel of her handbag before fleeing the scene.

Anghel is known for her investigative reporting on corruption, and on Wednesday, Timpul‘s editor in chief, Konstantin Tenase, said at a press conference that the attack could be linked to her work as a journalist.

In January, Timpul began publishing a series of articles by Anghel that suggested that government officials were making considerable profits from a business deal with an automobile importer.

Soon after the articles were published, Anghel began receiving threatening anonymous phone calls, Timpul‘s deputy editor Sorina Stefirtsa told CPJ. The phone calls warned that if she did not stop her investigations, she would be physically harmed. But Anghel continued reporting on government corruption in the following months, Stefirtsa said.

On Feb. 6, Daac Hermes, the automobile importer, filed civil libel charges against Timpul because of Anghel’s articles. The company sought $2 million in damages and a printed apology in Timpul. A second hearing on the case was scheduled for Thursday, June 24, at the Chisinau Court of Appeals, but it was postponed until June 29 because of the attack. The journalist was supposed to testify at the hearing.

Eugen Vitu, press secretary at the Moldova Interior Ministry, told CPJ that the preliminary investigation has classified the attack against Anghel as a robbery. However, he said the police will look at every possible lead during the investigation, including the one that the attack might be linked to Anghel’s journalism.

“In its investigation, the Interior Ministry must consider that Anghel had received threats and had a lawsuit filed against her in retaliation for her work,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We call on the ministry to investigate all suspects and prosecute the case aggressively.”